Oil, gas industry on Garfield County agenda | AspenTimes.com

Oil, gas industry on Garfield County agenda

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County’s elected leaders will be dealing with two related aspects of the oil and gas industry on Monday – a movie about how some residents have been affected by the industry, and a report about how the industry has been doing over the last four months.

During the morning work session, gas and oil liaison Judy Jordan, in her third quarterly report of 2009, will tell the board of county commissioners that while the number of gas drilling permits in Garfield County has remained well below its peak in 2008, the number of complaints received by her office has nearly tripled.

According to numbers furnished to Jordan by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the number of permits issued for all of 2009 is projected to be 1,871, compared to 2,888 for 2008.

But according to Jordan’s records there were 17 complaints against gas well companies in September, compared to six in August. Of those complaints, Jordan reported, 11 were for odors; dust, noise and spill complaints each numbered three for the month; one involved a speeding vehicle and two were for haul route violations.

Only one complaint was filed as “visual.”

Garfield County contains a total of 6,590 active wells, Jordan’s report indicates, and has seen more than a third of the drilling activity statewide in 2009.

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Jordan’s report indicates that, while the price of natural gas is rising, “long term futures are declining” while the amount of gas being stored is reaching record levels.

At the last Energy Advisory Board meeting, on Oct. 1, the county’s oil and gas department reported that there were a dozen gas rigs operating in the county, although not all the companies with operations in Garfield County were represented at the meeting.

Jordan reported that there are now a total of 39 rigs operating throughout Colorado, a loss of seven since her last quarterly report.

Jordan’s report also refers to learning last summer of violations of the rules of the Oil and Gas Commission regarding drilling operations, at operations on the border of Garfield and Rio Blanco counties.

The violations, she said, were on land owned by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and were reported, although her report does not specify the type and nature of the violations.

In early September, she said, the violations had not been corrected. When she met with the drilling operator, she was told that “their management had told them not to spend any money” but promised to “address some of the more egregious problems.”

Jordan wrote in her report that it may be necessary to require larger performance deposits from operators in the future, particularly if production continues to decline and operators begin to sell off their holdings.

In the afternoon session, scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m., commissioners will view a screening of the new documentary, “Split Estate,” which depicts the effects of the oil and gas industry on the residents of Colorado and New Mexico. The screening is part of a public meeting, and is open to the general public.

Other items on the BOCC agenda include:

• A discussion of public open space and trails in the county, with local wilderness activist Jock Jacober;

• A recommendation on hosting a public workshop regarding the Hidden Gems wilderness campaign, by planning director Fred Jarman;

• Further discussion of Antero Resources’ plans for drilling gas wells in the Battlement Mesa subdivision, requested by Battlement Mesa resident Paul Light.

Commissioners convene in their meeting room in the county administration building, 108 8th St., Glenwood Springs, starting at 8 a.m.

jcolson@postindependent.com