John ColsonGlenwood Springs Post IndependentAspen, CO, Colorado

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April 2, 2013
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SG adds two leases to Thompson Divide holdings

SILT, Colo. - A Texas-based energy company hoping to drill for natural gas in Thompson Divide recently acquired two leases in that area from Encana Oil & Gas (USA) and has asked federal authorities to "suspend" the leases.The company, Houston-based SG Interests, submitted the suspension request to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management on March 28, according to the BLM's website, BLM.gov.In mid-February, SG Interests had asked the BLM to suspend 16 other leases it holds in the Thompson Divide area, separate from the former Encana leases.The 16 leases are set to expire in May and July, and the former Encana leases are set to expire in August and September, according to Encana spokesman Doug Hock.Suspension of the leases would essentially put on hold the looming expiration dates for those leases while the company works with the BLM on applications to drill for natural gas on the leased lands.The Thompson Divide area covers 221,500 acres of federal land in Pitkin, Garfield, Gunnison, Mesa and Delta counties. There are 61 current leases in the area covering approximately 105,000 acres.The former Encana leases together cover 4,483 acres, according to Hock.Two additional Encana leases, in Encana's Divide Creek drilling unit, also are scheduled to expire Aug. 31, Hock said."We are planning to let those expire," Hock wrote in an email about Encana's two remaining Thompson Divide leases. "Even before the Thompson Divide debate began, we publicly and repeatedly stated we no longer had an interest in developing these leases, as we have other acreage in the Piceance Basin that is of much greater interest to us."Another company, Ursa Piceance LLC, also has applied to the BLM for suspension of seven leases it acquired from the Antero Resources drilling company last year.The Ursa leases, covering nearly 12,000 acres, are to the west of SG's leases.Representatives from both Ursa and SG Interests have told the Glenwood Springs Post Independent in the past that they are planning to keep actively assessing the potential for natural-gas development in the area.The BLM and the U.S. Forest Service together are involved in the review of drilling proposals in Thompson Divide. SG Interests has submitted six drilling-permit applications to the BLM so far - one for a well in Garfield County and five in Pitkin County.The BLM reviews subsurface activities, while the U.S. Forest Service will assess surface impacts, but none of the applications has been deemed complete yet - a necessary step to launch the federal reviews.The suspension requests from SG and Ursa followed previous "unitization" requests by SG and Antero to combine their leases into the Lake Ridge and Wolf Spring units, respectively.Unitization, like suspension, would prevent the expiration of leases under certain circumstances, but the BLM has not acted on the unitization requests.jcolson@postindependent.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Apr 2, 2013 06:59AM Published Apr 2, 2013 12:27AM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.