Garfield County wants Colorado to reconsider drilling concerns
June 14, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County wants state regulators to reconsider its consultant’s concerns about drilling in an area where natural gas from a well seeped into a creek in western Colorado.Judy Jordan, the county’s oil and gas liaison, argues the state has been more interested in discrediting consultant and geologist Geoffrey Thyne than resolving issues around drilling in the area south of Silt.Thyne has raised questions about West Divide Creek, where natural gas was found in 2004. The state fined EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. $371,200 after concluding that a well’s cement casing failed, allowing gas to flow into the creek.Thyne has questioned whether repairs to the EnCana well stopped the seep and whether it was even limited to one well. Oil and gas commission staff say residual gas from the 2004 seep is just taking time to surface.In a recent memo to the county commissioners, Jordan said state regulators “arranged for a multiparty attack,” including from the industry, on Thyne’s work at a hearing last summer. Regulators should have met with Thyne and the county to discuss their differing views, Jordan said.Dave Neslin, director of the state oil and gas commission, disputed that the hearing was an attack on the geologist’s work.”I would characterize that as an appropriate public proceeding to evaluate this issue, not an organized attack,” Neslin said.The commission will consider any requests from the county for “additional study or consideration,” he added.Garfield County is among Colorado’s top gas-producing areas. It leads all counties this year in the number of drilling permits issued with 1,003 as of June 7.