Oil and gas as smoke and mirrors | AspenTimes.com

Oil and gas as smoke and mirrors

Dear Editor:

Antero Resources, of Denver, and SG Interests, of Houston, are trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the readers of The Aspen Times and the people of Colorado.

The companies assert that “a hostile Pitkin County government and sympathetic federal bureaucrats are conspiring to sabotage the industry’s plans to drill on federal lands in Thompson Divide,” according to an article in the Nov. 9 issue of the Times. Further, the officials of these companies would like to make readers think that the issue as to whether drilling would proceed was settled. Implied in their attacks is a suggestion that they would be owed large sums if the government decides they could not proceed.

Apparently, the officials of these companies have never heard of the issues in federal lands in California. A number of companies had leased areas for drilling in the 1960s. The Santa Barbara oil spill caused by Unocal’s careless actions led to a suspension of drilling. Eventually, as I recall, many of the leases were bought back.

No doubt the officials of Antero and SG are too young to recall the Santa Barbara disaster. Those of us who have been around remember. Those of us who have been around also remember that leases made by one administration (the article indicates the leases were made almost 10 years ago – in other words, in the Bush-Cheney administration) can be reviewed by the current administration and possibly rejected. This has happened before – and it will no doubt happen again.

If the leases in Thompson Divide are to be developed (and I doubt they will), Antero and SG need to come forward and demonstrate to the Bureau of Land Management, the Obama administration and, most significantly, the residents of this area that they will be excellent stewards of all of the area’s resources, not just companies that are good at drilling and filing while destroying the surrounding ecosystem. My bet is that they will fail, especially given Nov. 6’s election results.

As the former member of a board of a major energy company (20 years ago), I suggest that these companies protect their shareholders’ interests by asking for a refund. I bet they get it. A refund will be far better than the slow death both companies will experience as they try to demonstrate that they can develop these resources in a responsible fashion.

To tell you the truth, no matter what they say, no one will believe them.

Philip Verleger


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