Williams plans worker camp north of Parachute
With natural gas development reaching out from the valley floor up into the high country, companies are seeking permission from Garfield County to build temporary worker camps in remote areas.In April, Occidental Oil and Gas Group applied to the county for permission to park several travel trailers on land it owns north of DeBeque to house about a dozen workers and save them a long drive into remote drilling sites.On Sept. 15, Williams, the largest natural gas producer in the county, applied for a special use permit to park manufactured housing on a 20,000-acre lease area about 14 miles north of Parachute.Williams crews leave from its Parachute office and face a 70-mile one-way trip to the Trail Ridge lease, which is accessed via the Piceance Creek Road north of Rifle in Rio Blanco County.”We want to place them in a safe environment for the length of their shift so they don’t have to drive back and forth,” said Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar.Since expanding its development efforts in the area last year, Williams wanted to continue to operate during the winter months in the area, which is at an average altitude of 8,300 feet, Alvillar said.Last winter drilling rigs were pulled out of the area and moved to the valley floor for the season.”This is a pilot program,” Alvillar said.During a public hearing on the Occidental application in April, the county commissioners and planning department staff voiced concerns about waste disposal. Both the Williams and Occidental camps will require a change in county zoning to allow them. Both companies operate in what the county has designated resource lands where temporary worker camps are not permitted.”We’re working cooperatively with the county,” Alvillar said. “We’re learning as we go.”Pending approval, the modulars, which will house about 24 people, or two working shifts, will be placed on a three-acre well pad from which seven to eight wells will be drilled. Williams has hired a catering service to provide daily meals for the workers. An emergency medical technician will also be on site to treat medical problems. Alvillar said a septic system will be installed on the site. If the camp is permitted and if winter drilling operations at high altitude prove successful, Williams would consider additional camps, Alvillar said.The county planning and zoning commission will consider the application at a public meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 11.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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