Pipeline building delayed 2 weeks

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At its Tuesday meeting, the Moffat County Commission:

• Amended its standard oil and gas lease contract to require energy companies to make a good-faith effort to reach an agreement with a surface land owner before conducting operations. Companies had been allowed to put seismic crews on property before contacting the landowner because it was not necessarily part of "drilling."

• Waived the normal bid process for metal sheds to protect communication tower generators. The bid process was waived because only one local business contacted - Rosencutter Construction - said it could take the job before winter, Commissioner Tom Mathers said. To put the project out for bid would amount to government waste in time and resources, he added.

• Approved a $15,300 bid from Wagner Power Systems for a diesel generator for the Road and Bridge Department. The bid was $500 more than the low bid, but officials chose Wagner because the generator could be serviced in Hayden rather than Denver, where the low-bid company is based. Also approved a $6,775 bid for a Road and Bridge Department sander from Layton Truck Equipment. Layton provided the low bid.

• Approved the September supplemental budget, which included a $583 reduction to the county's contingency fund for Sherman Youth Camp to cover unpaid special use permit fees.

A 94-mile natural gas liquids pipeline planned to run from Meeker to Wamsutter, Wyo., recently hit a three-mile hitch in Moffat County.

The Overland Pass Pipeline Co. expected to begin construction in September, but it faces a minor delay because of an unexpected reroute of the pipeline near Bighole Butte northwest of Craig, off County Road 7.

During the summer, the pipeline project was vetted by a Bureau of Land Management Environmental Assessment. The process was all but done when pipeline officials realized their plan had them going through an area with an existing conservation easement.

The BLM needs another two weeks for the public to comment on the pipeline's new path before it can release a final approval for the project, said David Boyd, BLM spokesperson.

Pipeline Project Manager Jeremy Wiese said the delay is nothing major.

"We were hoping to be in the construction phase in the last 10 days or so," he said. "At this point, we're confident we will start work this fall. We support the effort by the BLM to work with us."

He added the delay would "not necessarily" affect agreements with local contractors who were hired for pipeline construction.

All together, Wiese said there will be hundreds of workers strung across the pipeline in three staging areas: Meeker, Wyoming and jointly in Craig and Steamboat Springs.

The Overland Pass pipeline is owned by Oklahoma-based ONEOK, which owns 99 percent, and a subsidiary of Williams Energy Services, which owns the other 1 percent. Williams also has significant natural gas extraction operations in Rio Blanco County.

The pipeline will connect to others stretching into Wyoming and Kansas for a total system of 760 miles. Its total cost is projected to be between $575 million and $590 million.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

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