Moffat County Commission OKs Shell permit

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In its ongoing exploration of the Niobrara Shale Formation, Shell representatives asked the Moffat County Commission on Tuesday to approve a five-acre temporary use permit near Hamilton.

Peter Patten, of Patten Associates Inc., a land management-consulting firm in Steamboat Springs, appeared before the commission to present the terms of the Durham ground lease as agreed upon by Shell and landowners Raymond and Starla Durham.

According to the lease signed in December 2011, Shell plans to utilize five acres of the Durham’s property to house two office trailers, a security building and a maintenance shop.

The remaining acreage would be used as a “lay down” yard to store drilling rig equipment such as piping, wellheads, pump racks, rig anchors and other heavy equipment and machinery.

The term of the permit is for 24 months and also includes proposals for the construction of a water well and septic system.

However, until those projects are completed, water and sewage would have to be trucked in and off site.

Commissioner Audrey Danner questioned whether the hauling of water, sewage and equipment would increase road traffic in the area.

“I’m just assuming that rig anchors, heavy equipment and machinery are more than a trailer load,” Danner said. “So, I’m wondering why the road department isn’t involved in this.”

The road department’s involvement was unnecessary, Commissioner Tom Gray said, because Shell and Moffat County already have a road maintenance agreement.

But Gray was curious if adjacent landowners were entitled to notification of the plans pursuant to county regulations.

“On a temporary use permit we are not required to notify neighbors,” said Jerry Hoberg, director of the Moffat County planning department. “If (Shell) wants to expand on these plans and construct a man camp, then they would need to apply for a conditional use permit.

“A conditional use permit would require us to notify area residents because (a man camp) would require infrastructure that would be permanent.”

After the brief discussion, the commission approved the permit unanimously.

The site is located 22 miles south of Craig and will be accessed by Moffat County Road 37.

On Thursday, Tommie Criddle, of Shell’s logistics group, met with Hamilton residents to discuss road improvement projects.

Moffat County Road 37 is among those slated for improvements this year, Criddle said.

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