Driller files second application for Thompson Divide region | AspenTimes.com

Driller files second application for Thompson Divide region

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – SG Interests submitted its second application to drill for gas in the Thompson Divide area Monday, according to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The second application for permission to drill is for a single gas well on a single surface well pad on a leased area of 1,440 acres.

The site is located three miles south of the first application, just east of what is known as the Wolf Creek Unit, in Pitkin County.

The first application, filed Oct. 17, is for a site just south of Williams Peak, along Beaver Creek and near Four Mile Park in Garfield County.

Access for both wells, according to company plans, would be Four Mile Road into Four Mile Park and then along U.S. Forest Service roads, according to Dave Boyd, public information officer for the BLM.

The company, based in Houston, is seeking to place seven surface well pads, with at least nine wells, on leases in the Thompson Divide area, according to Robbie Guinn, vice president of land at SG Interests.

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Thompson Divide is a 221,500-acre swath of mostly public lands stretching from Sunlight Mountain Resort to McClure Pass and from just west of the Crystal River to Divide Creek.

According to Boyd, both applications filed so far are within the proposed 32,000-acre Lake Ridge Unit, which is SG Interests’ effort to combine several leases into one administrative unit.

But that unitization request, filed in May 2011 in an effort to give the company more time to determine the viability of the gas resource, remains under study by the BLM.

SG Interests decided to file for drilling permits, Guinn told the Post Independent, in part because of looming expiration dates for its leases in the area and delays in getting the Lake Ridge Unit approved.

Both leases covered in the applications are scheduled to expire on May 31, Boyd said.

The Garfield County commissioners on Monday came down squarely against the idea of a gas drilling company using Glenwood Springs and Four Mile Road as the haul route to a proposed drilling site near Sunlight Mountain Resort.

“Four Mile is not a haul route. It wasn’t built that way. It won’t support truck traffic,” said Commissioner Tom Jankovsky, at a work session meeting of the board of county commissioners on Monday.

Four Mile Road connects Glenwood Springs with the ski area and, beyond that, to Four Mile Park and the north section of the Thompson Divide region.

Thompson Divide is an area of 221,500 acres of mostly public land stretching from Sunlight Mountain Resort southward to McClure Pass, and from just west of the Crystal River westward over to Divide Creek.

The region has witnessed gas drilling in the past, and currently is targeted for drilling by several energy companies.

On Oct. 17, SG Interests of Houston filed an application for permission to drill for a gas lease located a mile and a half southwest of Sunlight Mountain Resort.

A second application was filed on Monday, for a site several miles south of the first site.

Robbie Guinn, vice president of land for SG Interests, told the Post Independent that the planned access route for the well covered by the first application, if granted, would be Four Mile Road.

Jankovsky said in addition to his concerns about Four Mile Road’s ability to handle gas truck traffic, the SG Interests proposal “brings all that traffic through Glenwood Springs,” which he indicated is not acceptable.

“I’m also worried about a conflict with two of our economic drivers,” Jankovsky continued, referring to tourism and recreation, which contribute heavily to the local economy.

His remarks were backed by Commissioner Mike Samson.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea at all. That’s never been our plan, to have traffic like that up Four Mile Road,” Samson said.

Specifically mentioning Guinn’s statement about the haul route, Samson said, “I don’t think he did his homework.”

Commissioner John Martin stated that the county “informed SG Interests even before the application was filed that Four Mile was not a haul route.”

County manager Andrew Gorgey suggested commissioners direct staff to contact the city of Glenwood Springs and start exploring options for dealing with the issue.

The Glenwood Springs City Council already has begun discussions about the inadequacies of the Sunlight Bridge and Midland Avenue to handle traffic of the sort expected from gas drillers.

The council had already planned to discuss concerns about Midland Avenue and the 27th Street bridge at a work session on Dec. 6. Discussions about the emerging drilling proposal could come up in November.

jcolson@postindependent.com

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