County approves Shell oil well near Hayden


Oil & gas issues in Routt County

— The Routt County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve a drilling permit for the Dawson Creek well for Shell Oil on State Land Board property about four miles southeast of Hayden on Routt County Road 37.

County Planner Chad Phillips said the commissioners made minor modifications to the language of conditions of approval pertaining to surface water and groundwater monitoring before approving the project. The hearing, including presentations, public comment and deliberations by the commissioners, lasted just less than three hours and adjourned before 8:30 p.m.

Shell has said it has no plans to use hydraulic fracturing techniques in drilling the exploratory well. The permit application had been approved by the Planning Commission in late summer 2011 and was tabled by the county commissioners in September 2011 to allow them to write new sets of conditions of approval for oil and gas drilling here.

That process is now complete, save for conditions that would apply to air-quality monitoring.

Peter Patten, a local land planning consultant working for Shell on the project, described the well pad site as being “somewhat remote” in that the distance to the nearest structure is 3,400 feet and the distance to the nearest water well is 4,330 feet. A seasonal stream 810 feet from the well pad site is the nearest water body.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email


Steve Lewis 4 years, 9 months ago

I've attended issues at the City level for a decade or so. And I attended this process at the County while new O&G conditions were studied and adopted. It seemed to occur with more opposing pressure than anything I've seen yet. How often are an applicant (Quicksilver Resources) and the State aligned against our elected officials?

Thank you County Commissioners for bringing your best intentions. And thank you for bringing the courage asked of you to see them through.

Shell made it clear they want to stand beside our County rather than against us.

It was a benchmark, for me, of the best we can be.


Scott Wedel 4 years, 9 months ago

This also suggests that the County's conditions are reasonable since Shell finds them acceptable. Shell has immense resources to fight unfair regulations. Yet Shell accepts the same sort of conditions that are objectionable to Quicksilver and the State O&G commission.

Pretty said indictment of the State O&G commission that Shell Oil is more responsive to public concerns than the State O&G commission.


David Carrick 4 years, 9 months ago

I still think something to be considered is that Quicksilver had to experience constant changing of the playing field while in the process, whereas Shell simply stood off in the shadows, not really playing actively, waiting for all of the "let's change the playing field once again 'cause we can" to be concluded, and then very "submissively" decided to agree to the current dictates of the board, and have come away looking very much the team players. I guess that also will be good for their (Shell's) business bottom line...that is, unless the board gets another hair out of place and decides to remount their high horses. Time will tell, for sure! Only my humble opinion...


Scott Wedel 4 years, 9 months ago

But the water monitoring requirements are hardly insane.

Quicksilver is objecting to a single monitoring well! Quicksilver could have also easily come off as the good guy team player and accepted one monitoring well as being common sense.

The playing field was not capriciously changed by the County. County was stunned that state O&G commission ignored local comment regarding groundwater. County ended up adopting what is pretty close to what the leading players in the industry have accepted as best practices.


Steve Lewis 4 years, 9 months ago

David, I attended almost all of these hearings and heard Quicksilver say for months they were fine with a water quality monitoring well requirement. They only cared that it be placed according to science. Quicksilver also said they supported the time taken and the County's obligations (due diligence protecting residents). Their last hearing, and the final minutes of their prior hearing, introduced a nearly complete revision of Quicksilver's position on all of the above.

You read about the confrontational letter from the COGCC. Months before it were similar letters from the State Attorney General's office and the Department of Natural Resources. The West Slope industry association also weighed against Routt.

Somehow you see regulatory whim in the most serious and deliberated action by our County in years. The residents of Milner are not describing this affair as "another hair out of place", "because we can". Perhaps when it is your water?


Steve Lewis 4 years, 9 months ago

What your post raises for me is the possibility that a set of County Commissioners would not look out for the clean water of a small group of residents, or go to bat for the environment encompassed in a fraction of Rout's whole. The prospect is real. Left or right politics are not the issue, because through the whole of this O&G issue, and to her credit, Nancy Stahoviak had one Democrat who would do more and another Democrat who would do less.

Some candidates for the BOCC attended many or all of these O&G meetings and thereby learned critical aspects of an important and growing County issue. Some candidates attended none and only know what they read in the paper. It is a huge expression of the differences in their intent to adequately represent their constituents in Routt.


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