Coalition offers money to protect Thompson Divide |

Coalition offers money to protect Thompson Divide

John ColsonPost IndependentAspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The Thompson Divide Coalition has offered to pay more than $2.5 million to six different oil and gas companies in order to prevent drilling in the Thompson Divide region.The offer was made in letters sent out Tuesday by the coalition to officers of SG Interests, Encana Oil & Gas, Willsource Enterprises LLC & Partners, Falcon Seaboard Oil & Gas LLC, Gunnison Energy Corp. and Antero Resources.The letters offer payments to the companies and partnership of companies, which collectively hold a total of 44 leases in the Thompson Divide area.The money is to come from a public fundraising campaign, according to the Thompson Divide Coalition. But the deal is dependent on the passage of federal legislation preventing the issuance of any future gas leases in the area.”We believe this is a reasonable proposition,” said coalition President Chuck Ogilby. “It acknowledges the investments these companies have made, and gives them a way to support an initiative that has broad community support.”Attempts to contact officers at SG Interests and Antero Resources for comment were not successful.

The Thompson Divide Coalition placed values on the leases after examining available public records. Its offers reflect the amount each company paid to acquire the leases plus monthly lease payments to date, spokesman Jock Jacober said.The amounts cited in the letters range from about $61,623 to Willsource Enterprises in Denver, which holds three leases, to nearly $817,000 to Antero Resources, also of Denver, which holds seven leases.SG Interests, based in Texas, holds 22 leases, the most held by any company included in the offer. The letter valued SG’s leases at $577,838.Under the terms of the offer, the coalition will await a decision by the companies as to whether the deal is acceptable or not. If it is acceptable, the Thompson Divide Coalition will start raising money for the payment and simultaneously work to create federal legislation that would forever remove the Thompson Divide area from the leasing inventory.Lacking such legislation, Jacober said, any money collected would be put in an escrow account, and the deal would be put on hold.”We’d have a hard time raising money if donors thought there might be more leases issued and we’d have to do this all over again,” Jacober

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