SILT, Colo. - Ursa Resources Group II LLC, current owner of Antero Resources properties and assets in the Piceance Basin, will start drilling a horizontal well later this year, a high-level company official said here on Monday.
In the meantime, said Don Simpson, vice president for business development for Ursa, the company plans to conduct about 50 "workover" operations on existing wells, mostly in the region south of Silt.
Workover operations, he explained, often involve efforts to reach gas-bearing rock strata that were not tapped in the initial drilling of a well.
It does not involve renewed drilling of the well, he added.
In the third quarter of 2013, Simpson said, the company plans to bring in one drilling rig and start working on one new horizontal well to determine whether gas reserves close to existing neighborhoods and towns can be tapped from a distance.
"If that's the case, we can step off and not be as close to the communities," he said.
That well, he said, probably will be to the south of Silt.
Simpson was speaking to the Silt Board of Trustees, after Mayor Dave Moore warmly welcomed him and his company to the area.
Ursa, Simpson said, has been drilling horizontal wells in other parts of the U.S., and has reached bore lengths of up to two miles, drilling multiple wells from a single well pad.
After the drilling is done, he said, the company then switches to "completion" procedures.
This includes the controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," in which millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals are forced down the well bore to break up the gas-bearing rock and free the gas to flow more easily to the surface.
The Ursa management "team," he told the trustees, mostly will be living and working out of either Denver or Rifle, to keep personnel close to the action in the gas patch.
"You'll see more of a personal touch [than Antero offered]," he assured the trustees. "We're a small company, and this is a core asset to us."
Simpson and another Ursa official, field representative Jeff Powers, took a few questions from the trustees, including a query from Moore about whether the company has plans to drill wells immediately adjacent to Silt.
Yes, replied Simpson, adding that most of the activity will be south of the Colorado River.
"The north is relatively less proven," he said, referring to the area north of Silt on Silt Mesa. "We'll take our time with that."
Simpson also offered to take comments from the public, but the only members of the public with questions were industry critics Tod and Peggy Tibbetts.
In response to their questions, Simpson said he was unsure if the "workover" operations will include wells drilled in the Silt Mesa area by Antero in 2010.
Once the drilling rig is brought into the area, in late 2013, Simpson told the Tibbettses, it will be put to work primarily in the Silt and Parachute areas.
Ursa also is working to complete one particular well southeast of Silt, labeled F-1-H, that was drilled by Antero but left uncompleted, meaning it was never fracked or shut in to await connection to a pipeline.
Powers said the fracking process started on Tuesday and is expected to take three to four weeks.
"That's not normal for what we usually see around here," Peggy Tibbetts said, to which Simpson replied, "It's the first horizontal well you'll see around here."
Tod Tibbetts asked Simpson to provide a schedule of planned drilling projects and the flaring that follows the drilling, and was told that may be possible through the Garfield County Oil and Gas Liaison's website (www.garfield-county.com/oil-gas/index.aspx).