Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Steamboat Springs Of six oil and gas drilling applications pending at the Routt County Planning Department, two are located in rolling ranch country four to five miles southeast of Hayden. A third, which just came in last week, represents the potential for a second well being drilled by Quicksilver Resources on property owned by Bob Waltrip on Wolf Mountain, east of Hayden.
Another permit application that has alarmed neighbors in the Saddle Mountain Ranchettes subdivision between Steamboat Springs and Milner has been put on hold indefinitely, according to county Planner Chris Brookshire, who specializes in analyzing energy exploration permits.
Brookshire said Tuesday that Quicksilver officials have informed her they intend to pursue drilling elsewhere before moving forward at Saddle Mountain.
County Planning Director Chad Phillips said this week that the pending applications (with the exception of the new Wolf Mountain well) are waiting for final approval of their traffic management and road impact mitigation plans before being deemed complete and scheduled for public hearings.
The two permit applications southeast of Hayden also are being proposed by Quicksilver and would be accessed off U.S. Highway 40 and Routt County Road 27 within a couple of miles of each other. One is called Williams 31-30 and the other is called 20 Mile Sheep 31-05.
Documents on file with Routt County indicate that Quicksilver intends to use hydraulic fracturing techniques in the completion phase of both wells. However, the permit applications do not indicate the compounds that would be used in the fracking process.
Phillips said county regulations do not require energy exploration companies to identify fracking compounds in permit applications because the county does not regulate fracking. But he said identifying the compounds for informational purposes could be a condition placed on drilling permits in the future.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission last week approved regulations requiring companies to release a list of all the chemicals and their concentrations in the fracking fluid with the exception of proprietary chemicals.
Quicksilver has indicated it would use closed-loop systems for recovery of drilling fluids at both sites, eliminating the need for fluid waste pits at the pads.
Routt Country Roads 27 and 51C would bound the Williams drilling site, and the well pad would disturb 2.5 acres of land.
Amy Williams, whose family owns about 725 acres of land where the well would be drilled, said the nearest residential neighbors are more than a mile away, with the exception of a home on the land occupied by her brother-in-law and his wife. The Williamses and Everett “Dutch” Williams — the father of Amy Williams’ husband, Michael — own shares of the mineral rights. A third party, Doris M. Scott, of Fairbanks, Alaska, also has mineral rights.
The application by Quicksilver reflects that the surface rights agreement would allow hunting to continue on the property, and no road or drilling activity would be allowed within 300 feet of any natural springs. An access road would be built to the drilling site from C.R. 27. Williams said the only surface water on the ranch is a seasonal stream.
She said she hopes Routt County residents will understand that not all of the lands within the county are untouched National Forest.
“We’re not in a view corridor, and this is not pristine mountain land,” she said. “We’ve worked amicably with the oil company to accommodate and mitigate.”
Quicksilver estimates it will drill to a depth of 7,450 feet on the Williamses’ land to reach the Niobrara shale that is thought to hold oil. It would take about a month to install the drilling pad and the 160-foot-tall rig would work 24 hours per day, seven days each week for an estimated 16 days to reach its target.
“During drilling and completion, the right would be partially visible from County Roads 27 and 51C but not visible from U.S. 40, and once the rig is removed, not visible from County Road 27,” Quicksilver wrote in its application.
The 20 Mile Sheep well would be drilled about six miles southeast of Hayden, and about 9.9 acres would be disturbed by the well pad there. The surface rights agreement in Quicksilver’s application indicates that John Maneotis is the manager of 20 Mile Sheep LLC. Priscilla A. Bauer, of Grantsburg, Wis., and 20 Mile Sheep share mineral rights.
Jeff Yoast is a neighbor of the proposed well site.
Quicksilver proposes to drill to a depth of 6,440 feet there in an operation that would require 10 to 15 days.
— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com