Injection well gets OK
Garfield County commissioners approved a land use application Monday from Ursa Resources Group for an injection well just outside of Battlement Mesa and Parachute.
In the unanimous approval Monday, Commissioners Tom Jankovsky and Mike Samson thanked Ursa for engaging the public in the process leading up to decision. Robert Bleil, regulatory and environmental manager for Ursa, said he expects that community engagement to continue.
Prior to approval, Kirby Wynn, county oil and gas liaison, addressed several issues residents raised during a public hearing last week. The geologists Wynn said he has been in contact with have all said that the area is not prone to seismic activity that might lead to the dramatic increases in earthquakes since 2009 in Oklahoma, tied to a growth in injection wells since hydraulic fracturing increased there.
As for establishing a seismic monitoring station in Garfield County — which several residents in the Battlement Mesa and Parachute area have requested — Wynn said remote monitoring locations outside the county would be able to detect a magnitude 2.5 earthquake or greater within six miles. Any decision to fund a monitoring center within the county would be up to the commissioners, he said.
Repeating statements made at a previous meeting, Bleil said Ursa believes the potential for noticeable induced seismicity is extremely limited, if it exists at all.
With the county’s approval and the well — located 1.5 miles south of Battlement Mesa — already drilled, Ursa now must finish going through the regulatory process with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Assuming the process is completed without significant setbacks, Ursa could be injecting produced water — underground water extracted through the drilling process — by late fall or early winter, Bleil said.
The current designation from the state is for a small injection well, which would cap the amount of water injected at 5,000 barrels per day, Bleil said. Based on experience, he expects COGCC to approve around 2,500 to 3,000 barrels per day. One barrel is the equivalent of approximately 42 gallons. The injection well is not for commercial purposes, meaning that Ursa would be the only operator injecting at the site.
According to data from the COGCC, there are currently 56 active underground injection disposal facilities in Garfield County, including four operated by Ursa. However, the active designation does not mean those facilities are injecting right at this moment, Wynn said.
Since the amount of water injected is based on the amount of water extracted from the surrounding oil and gas wells, it’s unclear how much water Ursa could be injecting on a given day, Bleil said. Ursa intends to transport most of the produced water to the injection well via pipeline.
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