1,800 new gas wells approved
December 5, 2005
DENVER – A state panel approved a plan Monday that will allow energy companies to drill about 1,800 new natural gas wells on Colorado’s eastern plains over the next 20 years, despite concerns it will cause big headaches for homeowners in one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved a plan that will allow three gas companies to drill additional wells in 27 townships in the heavily populated Front Range north of Denver.It excluded drilling in Longmont, Broomfield, Berthoud, Loveland, Hudson and Windsor, but said there was nothing that could be done to help Greeley, which is located in the center of the state’s natural gas boom and was recently listed as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States by the Census Bureau.Commissioner Brian Cree issued a warning to his colleagues, saying decisions about drilling should not be based on the economics of the day.”We don’t want to change our rules based on the price of oil. In three years, two years, it could be very different from what we’re seeing today,” he said. The region sits atop a highly productive gas field known as the Greater Wattenberg Area, which covers about 1.5 million acres in all. Kerr-McGee Rocky Mountain Corp., EnCana Oil and Gas USA and Noble Energy Production Inc. received permission to drill a total of eight wells per quarter-section, or 160 acres, an increase from five wells. Carolyn Lamb, an attorney for the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, an industry watchdog, said her group realizes the state needs new natural gas reserves, but she’s also worried about the impact on communities and the environment. She said the there are no requirements that drillers test the soil for contaminants after drilling is completed.