Our View: At 1st glance, Shell impresses
May 26, 2012
Shell Oil is yet to have its first public hearing on its first proposed exploratory well in Routt County, but the encouraging impression the company made during a community open house last week should serve as an example for other energy operators seeking to do business here.
We're not naive. Shell is a huge multinational corporation sophisticated enough to know it must connect with the communities where it seeks to drill for oil. But that doesn't mean we can't be grateful for the manner in which the company appears to be conducting its business in Northwest Colorado.
During a midday event Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center, Shell executive Matt Holman and a team of 15 company employees representing many facets of its operations matter-of-factly described their plans for Northwest Colorado. Holman made his company's intent crystal clear — they want Routt County to allow Shell to drill three exploratory wells this year — while also clearly stating their intent to obey all 60 oil and gas permit guidelines adopted by the county. Holman also said they've met with the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley, a citizens group particularly concerned with the potential impacts of energy exploration in Routt County, and agree to 13 additional conditions suggested by its members. Shell does not plan to use the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, technique in its initial three exploratory wells, Holman added.
Given the angst in communities across Colorado about energy exploration and its potential impacts, we appreciated the tone of Shell's introduction to Routt County. Wednesday's meeting was a good way to preface the company's entry into the public review process. However, we still must let that process bear itself out.
Energy drilling has a long history in Routt County, but never before has it garnered the interest and passion of residents as it has today. That's a good thing. We've previously commended the Routt County Board of Commissioners for its reasoned and cautious approach to local regulations on the energy industry.
So while we were impressed with Shell's apparent openness and bridge-building with the community last week, the company ultimately must be judged by its actions, not its words. If its words are any indication, we're off to a good start.