Shell Oil makes its pitch at Steamboat open house |

Shell Oil makes its pitch at Steamboat open house

— Shell Oil's Matt Holman left no doubt about his company's desire during an open house it hosted Wednesday at the Steamboat Springs Community Center.

"Can I please drill three wells in Routt County this year?" Holman asked the room of about 100 people. "I ask this with all earnestness."

Holman, Shell Oil's exploration project manager for Northwest Colorado, is seeking public support in anticipation of drilling permit applications going before the Routt County Board of Commissioners. Holman said the first of the three drilling applications could be considered by the commissioners in late July. The three proposed well sites would not use the controversial hydraulic fracturing process, Holman said, and they would be dug for exploration purposes. Holman said he might want to drill six more wells next year before the company decides whether to move from an exploration phase to a production phase here.

"We are in exploration phase," he said. "We might drill only three wells and be done. I hope not."

Holman used Wednesday's open house to try to prove to the community that Shell Oil can operate safely and responsibly.

"I want to at least drill three wells so I can establish a track record," Holman said. To do that, he said Shell Oil would follow the 60 local guidelines adopted by the county. Those are in addition to rules from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and were developed in part by a citizens group.

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"These are the ones that I'm interested in and these are the ones that you should be interested in, too," Holman said. "In the end, we all need to get along."

Holman also said his company would agree to 13 additional conditions developed after meetings with the Community Alliance of the Yampa Valley.

The open house included a free catered lunch and a raffle for a gas card. A dozen of Holman's colleagues were there to answer questions and listen to concerns from residents.

"I am here to learn, that's all," Hayden resident Tracey Rogalski said about why she attended the open house.

Fred Robinson, who drives a yellow Hummer fueled by alternative energy sources, was hoping to talk to Shell Oil officials about capturing natural gas and making it available for local public transportation vehicles. He does not want to see the gas burned off, like it often is at well sites.

"I'm here to raise awareness about what they can do with natural gas emissions," Robinson said.

Mary Littman, who moved to Steamboat 12 years ago, was most concerned with how energy exploration would affect water, views, air and wildlife. She doesn't want to see drilling rigs in Routt County.

"I want it to stay as pristine as possible," Littman said. "I want to see the hills and the green and the snow."

Littman said she attended the open house because she wants to know whether Shell Oil was being truthful.

"I'm here to make sure that these guys aren't going to cheat us," she said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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