El Paso County’s local government designee, Diana May, held a meeting in December to update the public on oil and gas operations.
Representatives from Banko Petroleum Management, Hilcorp Energy Co., Lone Star Energy, Nexgen Oil & Gas, the El Paso County Development Services Department, the county’s assessor’s office, SOS Employment Group and Elbert County’s local government designee were among the attendees.
May discussed the Memorandum of Understanding the county entered into with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Nov. 15. As reported in the Dec. 1 issue of The New Falcon Herald, the MOU incorporates the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s voluntary water testing program into the COGCC’s mandated requirements for issuing drilling permits in the county.
She said the MOU represents the first time the COGCC has agreed to water quality testing that is stricter than their current requirements.
May said El Paso County’s persistence for stricter testing requirements prompted the COGCC to re-evaluate their regulations. The COGCC is working on making two rules more stringent. The rules in review pertain to setbacks and water quality testing, she said. Both rules are scheduled for a public hearing process Jan. 7 and Jan. 8, May said.
With no representative from Ultra Petroleum present, May gave a brief update on the company’s activities in the county. She said Ultra has currently drilled three wells: Olive Oyl, Brutus and Ponderosa.
Olive Oyl, located south of Drennan Road near Curtis Road, has been vertically hydraulically fractured (fracked), May said. Brutus, located off Highway 94, east of Ellicott; and Ponderosa, located south of Highway 94 near Blaney Road, have not been fracked, she said.
Don Spicer, Hilcorp division landman, provided information about Hilcorp’s progress in the county since the last LGD meeting. He said the company has begun drilling at the Myers well site, which is located off Peyton Highway, north of Highway 94.
Spicer said drilling has reached about 6,300 vertical feet and the curve to drill horizontally has been made. The horizontal portion of the drilling will be less than 3,000 feet, he said. “Drilling should be complete in the next couple of days, and fracking is scheduled for around Dec. 20,” he said.
“Until we fracture the rock, we’re not going to learn much information about it. We have to fracture it to see if it can be a commercial producer. It’ll take some time to know if there are hydrocarbons that can be commercially produced.”
Spicer said that Hilcorp plans to drill as soon as possible at its other site called State, located off Peyton Highway, south of Highway 94. If the drilling equipment from the Myers site is used to drill the State site, drilling will immediately begin; if not, drilling won’t begin until mid-January, he said.
The State site is a vertical well that will be used for testing only, Spicer said.
The Nexgen vice president of land, Bob Davis, said his company has filed a permit with the county to do seismic testing in a 21-square-mile area in El Paso and Elbert counties. Lockhart Geophysical Co. will perform the testing as soon as possible after the permit is approved, Davis said. He said he anticipates testing will take place in February.
“We’re looking at more conventional drilling, not into the Niobrara,” Davis said. “We don’t plan to drill horizontally, or frack.”
Craig Dossey, director for the county’s development services, said the only new item is a proposed pipeline that would transport liquefied natural gas. Front Range Pipeline has proposed construction of a 14-16-inch pipe that would run from Weld County to an area southeast of Dumas, Texas, he said. It would affect El Paso County by cutting through the northeastern area of the county near Calhan and Rama, Dossey said.
“The project is not permitted by the COGCC,” Dossey said. “We’ve told them it will likely go to a public hearing. The idea has not been very well-received by the community.”
The next LGD meeting is Feb. 6 from 2 to 3 p.m. in the Pikes Peak meeting room at Centennial Hall in Colorado Springs.