Yet another deadline extension inflames gas driller’s neighbors |

Yet another deadline extension inflames gas driller’s neighbors

Lynn Burton
Staff Writer

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last week granted EnCana another extension for building an alternate road to its gas wells south of Silt, a decision that has inflamed some Grass Mesa residents.

“Pardon my French, but it’s bull…. ,” said Grass Mesa Homeowners Association Board President Bret Closs.

“They were given extensions to Aug. 15, Sept. 15 and now Nov. 15,” Closs said. “If the road isn’t built by Nov. 15, I’ll bet they get another extension.”

The alternate road would handle EnCana’s heavy truck traffic to Grass Mesa, and take it off a private road the company shares with the subdivision’s residents.

Oil and Gas Deputy Director Brian Macke said that until the alternate road is built, semi-trailer truck traffic to Grass Mesa will be “extremely limited.” EnCana must notify the commission if it wants to send trucks up the narrow, twisty road, and residents will also be notified.

Macke said bobtail trucks, which do not have trailers and can’t jackknife, are excluded from the extension agreement.

In May, the commission cited the Canadian-based EnCana for alleged safety violations after it nearly ran a commission vehicle off the road while state employees were conducting inspections. Macke said it was the first time he can recall the commission has used a safety provision in state statutes for citing a company for an incident that occurred on a private road.

As part of EnCana’s citation settlement with the commission, the company agreed to build an alternate road to Grass Mesa across Bureau of Land Management property. Macke said the BLM has assured him there is a “high probability” that access will be granted across the federal lands for an alternate road.

EnCana’s heavy trucks that will be used to build the alternate road will be allowed to travel up Grass Mesa’s private road, Macke said, but residents will be notified.

EnCana has been exploring for natural gas and developing wells on Grass Mesa for two years. The 40 to 50 Grass Mesa subdivisions homes sit on 35-acre lots. Homeowners have been clashing with EnCana and the oil and gas commission since the start of gas exploration. Residents have told the commission problems range from trucks that have jackknifed on Grass Mesa’s only access road, to instances where trucks have crowded vehicles off the road.

Macke said the alternate road extension expands a previous agreement that limited heavy truck traffic. The new agreement calls for the commission to look at EnCana’s heavy truck requests on a case by case basis, and the company can’t conduct drilling and other operations without approval.

EnCana owns property in the Grass Mesa subdivision, which to a degree allows it to use the disputed road.

Closs said he would like for the Grass Mesa Homeowners Association to file a lawsuit against EnCana to prevent it from using the subdivision’s private road.

“That’s our only alternative,” Closs said. “But whoever has the most money wins, and we are limited in our resources.”

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