Laramie withdraws controversial drilling application
garfield county correspondent
RIFLE ” An energy company withdrew its application to drill near a subdivision Tuesday, after Garfield County commissioners on Monday decided to seek a state hearing regarding the drilling plan.
Laramie Energy II could file a new application to drill at the same location, but company representative Ken Leis said that is unlikely.
“We’re seriously looking at some other options. At this point I have no idea where they may be,” Leis said.
Laramie representatives met with county commissioners Monday and said they were putting on hold an application to drill near Rifle Village South subdivision, southwest of Rifle. However, commissioners decided to proceed with asking for a hearing before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission regarding the permit application.
The county had faced a COGCC deadline of today to request the hearing, and the deadline still appeared to apply despite Laramie’s decision to put the application on hold.
The county’s request could have resulted in a COGCC hearing on the permit occurring in February. Leis said Tuesday there was no sense in having a hearing when the company hadn’t decided yet on a specific location to drill, so it withdrew its application.
Laramie has been seeking to reach agreement to drill on land owned by Harry Colborn, but no deal has been struck, and it also had been evaluating other possible locations. Although state rules allow companies to post a bond and drill on property without the owner’s consent, Leis said Laramie drills only when surface use agreements are reached.
Many subdivision residents have objected to Laramie’s currently proposed location because of its proximity to them. One of them, Jim Golden, said it was nice that Laramie withdrew its application, but he had looked forward to the state hearing as an opportunity for the county to seek clarification on when rules for drilling in high-density areas apply. Such rules seek to reduce impacts through means such as requiring use of closed-loop drilling systems in place of open pits, and incorporation of technologies to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds.
Leis said the issue didn’t really matter in Laramie’s case because its standard drilling practices already meet the requirements for drilling in high-density areas.
Judy Jordan, the county’s oil and gas liaison, said she found Laramie’s sensitivity to the concerns of residents “promising.” She hopes Laramie may be able to find an alternative site that, while perhaps less convenient to the company, still would let it economically drill in the area of subdivision without causing as many impacts.
Leis said the company’s options are limited.
“You just don’t have a lot of opportunities there. We’re trying everything we possibly can,” he said.
“We’ll either make it work or there’s a good chance too that some of this stuff may not get drilled.”
That would have financial ramifications for both Laramie and the owners of mineral interests in the area, he said.
Golden and county Commissioner John Martin fear Laramie may decide to sell its leases in the area to another company.
“Then we’ll be going through this again,” Golden said.
Martin said a new owner might decide to post a bond and drill on Colborn’s land.
“As my grandmother said, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t,” Martin said.
Leis said Laramie has no plans to sell the leases.
Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119
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