Old lease pays off

Well open for exploration 30 years ago now producing oil, natural gas


A recently drilled well on a tract of land that Moffat County leased out for energy exploration nearly 30 years ago is now producing oil and natural gas, thereby yielding payments to the county.

The Moffat County commissioners signed an order Tuesday for J-W Operating Co. to split profits from production of a well near the Great Divide with the county. The well produced 36,000 million cubic feet of natural gas, according to a June 2006 report from the company.

J-W Operating Co. is the fourth company to own the lease in the past 20 years.

The county receives an eighth of the royalty on production from the well, which was originally leased in 1977 and drilled in June of 2006.

Moffat County owns mineral rights on half of the 320 acres leased and received a July payment of $12,584 for well production, natural resource director Jeff Comstock said.

Money from county mineral rights is split between the Moffat County School District, Colorado Northwestern Community College, Colorado River Water Conservation District and the county.

In other business, the commissioners approved hiring two new detention officers for the jail to replace existing positions lost to resignations.

They also accepted a workers compensation insurance bid from Pinnacle Insurance for $235,482, with the possibility of a dividend paid back to the county. If a minimum number of claims are filed, the insurance company will pay back a dividend to the county, which will then be returned to employees as safety bonuses.

Commissioners also discussed forming a local committee to look into courthouse security.

Commissioner Tom Gray said statewide concerns about security, mainly in courtrooms, was a topic under discussion for a number of years. Discussions in Moffat County still are in the preliminary stages, Gray said.

The county should do what they can now for minimal cost, the commissioner added.

A committee consisting of the county sheriff, a county commissioner and a district judge will likely examine current procedures, including locking doors to limit courtroom access and training staff on security procedures.

The security at the courthouse is already increased during specific trials when requested by the judge.

Commissioners also recommended working on an agreement with the river district and Colorado state parks concerning maintenance on Moffat County Road 28 crossing the new dam at Elkhead Reservoir.

Commissioner Daryl Steele recommended drafting a memorandum of understanding between the county and other parties involved in road maintenance.

The board will also be applying for Department of Local Affairs money that was recently made available to 17 counties in Colorado. To qualify for the out-of-cycle grant money, a county must be experiencing mineral extraction activities.

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