Brent Jacobsen, a project manager for Geokinetics, points to a property map of Craig during a question-and-answer session Saturday at the Holiday Inn of Craig. Geokinetics intends to perform a geologic survey of Craig and parts of Moffat County, and is seeking permission from residents to place seismic sensors on private land. The survey could identify pockets of oil and natural gas.

Photo by Ben McCanna

Brent Jacobsen, a project manager for Geokinetics, points to a property map of Craig during a question-and-answer session Saturday at the Holiday Inn of Craig. Geokinetics intends to perform a geologic survey of Craig and parts of Moffat County, and is seeking permission from residents to place seismic sensors on private land. The survey could identify pockets of oil and natural gas.

Company, residents discuss possible survey project

As Leroy Lee exited a meeting Saturday in the conference room at the Holiday Inn of Craig, he shared a candid assessment with a small group of people assembled outside the door.

“I survived,” Lee said. “But, I need to go put a Band-Aid on my butt.”

Lee, a geophysical consultant for Gulfport Energy Corporation, was speaking of the question-and-answer session he and two representatives from Geokinetics, Inc., hosted.

Geokinetics is a Texas-based company that conducts geological surveys via seismic sounding. In October, the company was commissioned by Oklahoma-based Gulfport Energy to provide a survey of the subsurface of Craig and parts of Moffat County.

The prospective survey area is 53 square miles. The project is estimated to last three months. The precise start date is unknown, but it is anticipated to begin in January and finish in March.

The completed survey will indicate likely locations for hydrocarbons such as oil and natural gas.

To conduct the survey, Geokinetics plans to use “thumpers” and seismic sensors, project manager Brent Jacobsen said.

A thumper is a large diesel truck with a heavy weight attached to its frame via a hydraulic lift.

By lowering the weight onto the ground, the thumpers create vibrations for the seismic sensors to record.

Geokinetics then analyzes the sensor data to render a three-dimensional illustration of the underlying geologic strata.

To create a complete and accurate image, the thumpers must drive across the entire survey area in parallel lines — spaced 880 feet apart.

Intersecting the trucks’ paths are another set of parallel lines — the sensors.

The sensors are stake-like devices that are driven into the ground and connected by cable.

On a map provided by Geokinetics, the lines of truck paths intersect with the lines of sensor locations and resemble a diamond-shaped grid.

Many of those lines cross private property.

Geokinetics is seeking permission from landowners to set up sensors and drive trucks across private property. In return, the company is offering landowners $5 per acre for their cooperation.

Jacobsen said Geokinetics is in the process of mailing out permission requests to those residents.

The Saturday question-and-answer session was set up to address landowner concerns.

More than 50 Craig and Moffat County residents attended.

Their concerns ranged from the potential for damage to property or the environment, and to express dissatisfaction over a perceived lack of public information from Geokinetics.

Thumping concerns

Several residents asked if thumping could cause damage to structures such as foundations or wells.

Jacobsen said the vibrations would be minimal.

“If you’re standing right next to these machines, you can probably feel it,” Jacobsen said of the thumpers. “But, if you walk 20 feet away, you won’t feel a thing.”

Jacobsen added that any damage, however unlikely, would be repaired at Geokinetics’ expense.

Some residents expressed concern that livestock might be upset by the vehicles.

Lee said the trucks’ presence at each location would be fleeting.

“The whole process is going to take less than three minutes, and then we’re going to move 300 feet away,” he said.

Jacobsen added that it’s uncertain whether thumping would take place within city limits.

“People are concerned about us vibrating in the city,” Jacobsen said. “The (Craig) City Council and the mayor will have the ultimate decision as to whether that can happen or not.

“My advice would be, when we go to the city council, when we present our case and bring the experts in there, I would encourage the people to attend and voice their opinion.”

Sensors

Jacobsen said Geokinetics employees will do their best to respect landowners’ wishes when placing seismic sensors on private property.

He added that although Geokinetics’ current map of the area shows the sensors arranged in straight lines, the survey allows for some leeway to run cables around homes, fences, or other obstacles.

“They would be wherever you allow us to put them,” Jacobsen said. “We’re able to move them around.”

Jacobsen said the cables and sensors would be in place for about two weeks, then they would be removed and taken to a different location within the survey area.

To minimize damage in rural areas, Jacobsen said Geokinetics employees would travel on foot, and their equipment and supplies would be dropped from helicopters rather than driven in off-road vehicles.

“We will drop cables every quarter-mile,” Jacobsen said.

Environmental effects

Craig resident Kerrie Clarke said she wasn’t concerned about the survey, but rather the possible hydrocarbon extraction that would follow.

“The survey is relatively harmless, but I think people need to understand what comes next because that’s where the real damage lies,” Clarke said.

Of particular concern to Clarke was the possibility that Gulfport would use the technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas.

Fracking, Clarke said, has contaminated groundwater in Logan Mountain and Fort Lupton.

“I don’t think people realize what fracking is and what it involves,” Clake said. “What condition is Moffat County going to be in when you’ve taken everything you want and you’ve left?”

Jacobsen said Geokinetics wouldn’t be involved in any extraction plans.

“We’re doing a simple seismic survey,” he said.

Lee said he doubted Gulfport would have any interest in extracting natural gas in the short term.

“Natural gas is what, $5 (per million BTU) right now? They’re going for petroleum,” Lee said.

Other residents had concerns about drilling within city limits or the possibility of derelict rigs being left behind once drilling was completed.

Lee’s response to site concerns was concise.

“They’re not going to drill in the city,” he said.

Lee added that economic concerns would prevent abandoned structures.

“They’re not going to leave it there because they can use it somewhere else,” Lee said of rigs. “They’re not going to leave an asset that’s not being utilized.”

Local resident Zach Hendershott said any discussions on possible environmental impacts were beyond the scope of the meeting.

“As I understand it, you would like to drill, you don’t know where or if you can drill, and the whole purpose of this (survey) is to determine that,” Hendershott asked.

Jacobsen agreed.

“Exactly,” he said. “Maybe there’s nothing here.”

Leases and permissions

Jacobsen said Gulfport Energy owns mineral leases for about one-third of the survey area.

As to the remaining leaseholders, Jacobsen said Geokinetics was looking into it.

“We’re researching now, but it seems like — going back to the original homesteader town of Craig — most of the landowners have their minerals,” he said. “I don’t believe much is leased in there.”

Jacobsen was asked what would happen if individual landowners refused to give Geokinetics permission to place sensors.

Jacobsen said it depended on the holder of the mineral lease.

“If whoever owns those minerals wants them explored, they could force the issue and still be able to come across the property,” he said.

Clarke asked for clarification.

”Even if someone else owns the surface rights, the mineral rights override them?” she asked.

Jacobsen said yes.

A resident asked Jacobsen why the permission forms asked for landowners’ social security numbers.

Jacobsen said it had to do with Geokinetics’ payments to landowners, but the information wasn’t required of everyone.

“If we’re paying you more than $600, we need your social security number,” he said.

Jacobsen said permissions may impact the starting time of the project.

“We’d have to have a solid 60 percent of the job in the area before we can start,” he said.

Public notification

Several residents said they were concerned that Geokinetics didn’t first approach the town through city or county government.

Geokinetics permitting agent Ginger McKay said she has met with the Moffat County Commission.

“We’ve met with all the commissioners three separate times, but not in an open meeting,” she said.

City councilor Terry Carwile, who was out of town during the meeting, said Geokinetics has kept the council out of the loop.

“It’s taken me by surprise,” Carwile said. “There hasn’t been any preliminary sorts of information out there for council people or staff.

“All we’ve heard, to my knowledge, is these folks want to come in and use geophones and thumping and that kind of stuff to see if there’s oil underneath the city limits.”

Carwile said he was unsure why Geokinetics hasn’t been in touch with the council.

“I don’t know,” he said. “It seems like a significant oversight on their part to jump directly to requesting permission from property owners.

“I encourage them to get on the city council agenda as quickly as possible, hopefully the next meeting.”

Comments

taxslave 3 years, 7 months ago

What a pony show. You folks are toast. They will use eminent domain and take your land if you don't play ball.

The commissioners are not your friends and neither are these intruders. Rape and pillage is all they know.

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onewhocares 3 years, 7 months ago

When I received my notice from Geokinetics 1.5 weeks ago I promptly became furious because I have been following the damage from natural gas drilling across the US. (Have you seen or heard of all the towns with water that catches on fire--that's from fracking) I knew what that survey request means not from the survey itself, but by the oil & gas companies that pay for them. I spent hours reading how drilling, (specifically "fracking" ) has caused poisoned water (on top of many other serious issues) in towns from Texas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Wyoming with even the State of New York temporarily banning the practice of "fracking" (which comes after Geokinetics) due to the extremely dangerous environmental conditions it creates. One of "fracking's" leading engineers Anthony Ingraffes, Ph.D & professor at Cornell Univ. adamantly opposes the practice because of its inherent dangers- so that's gotta tell you something. After some thought, I realized the people who are going to lose the most money if they come in & poison our towns & water, are our banks & lenders to our homes & property & of course us. I called our banking institution & told them the situation & was advised to definitely say "no" to Geokinetics, because then they would have to go through their attorney, who would have to contact the lending institutions attorney before they can step foot onto your property. I was further advised if they come on anyway, call the police for trespassing & immediately call the bank & advise them of the situation. Please DO NOT think you have to sign that form, because you don't & if you are considering it, there is tons of information on the internet about the practice of "fracking" and the chemicals used (many governmental websites, cnn, ) before you sign that innocent looking request. Your decision could effect not only your property & your lifestyle but your neighbors as well. It's up to the people of Moffat to protect our home, because if Gulfport comes in & destroys it, it's too late...Game over.

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justthefacts 3 years, 7 months ago

Fact: Geokinetics and the the County Commissioners have met three times in closed door meetings. ( With the $85..000.00 a year Natural Resource Manager in tow, as always.)

Fact: Three more violations of the Colorado Sunshine Law by the County Commissioners!!!!!!

Fact: The Commissioners could have at least called an executive session to discuss the $25.00 they can get by thumping the Court House. ( They didn't!!)

Fact: Geokinetics has not contacted the City Council. ( Why would they after visiting the Commissioners, the Commissioners don't recgonize that Craig is in Moffat County !!!)

Fact: If the City and County would pool their share of the "permission to thump funds",they could lower the price on the Safety Center lease by $50.00. ( The city now would only owe $999.950.00) What a deal!!!!!!! By Tom Mathers standards " We hit the jackpot" Ding, Ding Ding

Fact: Thumping is only like a minor eathquake. ( For $25.00 bucks a little rumble, cracked basements, pictures flying off the wall, broken pipes, electrical disturbances, upset animals.) No Problem !!!!!

Fact: We have not seen such disaster since 1938 when Orsen Welles read The War of Tthe Worlds.

Fact: I Don't want my house Thumped!!!!!!!

Then Thumper said to Bambi. "That's not a butterfly. That's a flower." Bambi said: "Uh-huh it's purty and it taste good too", at that point City Council thumped Bambi.

What's that Elvis song " A whole lot of Thumping going on"?

Just The rumbling Facts

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Colette Erickson 3 years, 7 months ago

Wow - truly amazing that the County Commissioners didn't have the common courtesy/decency to at least give the City Council a "heads - up" about this.

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Terrie Barrie 3 years, 7 months ago

Onewhocares - thank you for researching the homeowners options. I never would have thought of making Geokinetics go through my mortgage company for permission.

Some of you may be interested in the investigative reports done by ProPublica on fracturing

http://www.propublica.org/series/buried-secrets-gas-drillings-environmental-threat

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Denise Bagley 3 years, 7 months ago

For those interested, I found a very informative website about a film made about this exact situation. Here is the website link: http://gaslandthemovie.com/whats-fracking#frackingprocess

It does a really good job of explaining what exactly is involved in the "fracking" process.

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justthefacts 3 years, 7 months ago

Fact: The song "A whole lot of Thumping going on", was a Jerry Lee Lewis song.

Thank you loyal reader for noticing and bringing it to my attention.

Just The Corrective Facts

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Vermillion 3 years, 7 months ago

If the City allows Geokinetics to use the streets and alleys for the survey, the City should be liable for any damage done to our property. The City should not incurr this potential liability.

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grannyrett 3 years, 7 months ago

Don't know if it was the same company or now, but several years ago, thumping was done up in Rock Springs, Wy. Lots of unhappy people there-wells ruined, basement walls cracked. Don't want it done anywhere near where I live.

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onewhocares 3 years, 7 months ago

Thank you both so much tbarrie & italiris4 for your information. The more I learn the scarier it gets!!! Also, I want to mention that at the meeting on Saturday, the representative for Gulfport stated his company was most likely just going after petroleum and they were a small company. According to their website at: http://www.gulfportenergy.com/our-company, the first paragraph about the company states " Our Company is a value-driven, growth oriented oil and gas exploration and production company headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Operating areas include targeted exploration and exploitation using new technologies in areas with known major oil resources in place whether in Southern Louisiana, the Permian Basin and the Bakken Shale. Exploration opportunities are pursued in areas where capital investment can generate tremendous upside as shown by exploration and exploitation activities in the Canadian oil sands, natural gas exploration in northern Thailand, and oil and gas exploration activities in Belize."

The truth is, they are after natural gas as well and they are an international company, which to me doesn't constitute small at all. I guess my point is, please don't believe a thing they say until you've done your own research & come to your own conclusions. The beauty & lifestyle of Moffat County deserves it.

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onewhocares 3 years, 7 months ago

Personally, if Geokinetics & Gulfport do come in & cause havoc with our water, our air and our lifestyle, I believe the County Commissioners should personally be held responsible legally and financially for our losses since they made the decision to sell the leases in the county without a public vote--right under our noses.

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taxslave 3 years, 7 months ago

No way did the commissioners have legal authority to do what they did, especially without a vote. The holding of 3 "secret" meetings with these clowns is icing on the cake. How much money did they slip you Tom?

Folks, throw these men out and file suit against these deals that were made illegally. Remember when they sold property that they didn't have the right to sell? That was wrapped in court for awhile. They do not represent you but it is You who pays them to screw you.

I suggest you take time off work so you can address these clowns at their next meeting. Also, insist that they change the time of their meetings so others can attend.

When I showed up to their meetings, 3 x's in past 2 years, I was the only one there and they would ask me, "What do you want". I'd say, I'm just listening. The crap they would do and sign was incredible. Oh, the paper would always be there too but they didn't report on what went on. Grannyrett, do you remember me posting about what went on there and you attacked me instead of researching what I said.

Two years ago I went to the council and warned them of the coming financial disaster and urged them to not spend at this time. They blew me off too and now we're screwed. It's going to get much worse and it's going to come at you even faster. Many more will loose their job.

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P51 3 years, 7 months ago

After reading some of these posts I've come to the conclusion that Craig has a lot of citizens who are a bunch of paranoid conspiracy theorists who listen to Dumb stuff and then repeat it. Geokinetics won't be drilling for oil or gas in your yard. They are just looking. You all remind me of the old Chinese saying " when the going gets tough the weird turn pro." Calm down, give it a break or your head will explode.

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GreyStone 3 years, 7 months ago

I like the exploding head theory… these same people migrate these thought processes from the deer to truck-thumping to big oil as their demons. They must not be able to sleep at night…BigOil is lurking out in the dark or the deer are crapping in the street. What about the birds???

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mchsgrad10 3 years, 7 months ago

I am currently a college student majoring in Petroleum Geology, and I have been in the field and in the classroom constantly learning about things like Geokinetics is doing. You are all overreacting, from studies and test I personally have done as a student, their surveying will not effect you at all. Do not judge the surveyors based on articles you have read... do not judge them untill you have learned everything about the process, maybe you should have payed attention more in high school earth science.

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taxslave 3 years, 7 months ago

You trolls stick out like a sore thumb. Those who have done your research on the subject, ie, WY aftermath, stick to what you know, not what shrills tell you they say.

This is a destructive process. Pennsylvania is having serious troubles because of doing this.

You can not cram stuff down the earth without it cramming stuff right back.....gases come to mind.

Go take a look at what they did to the seafloor in the gulf of mexico. They totally fractured it and the crap is still spewing. They opened a fault. The BP rov cameras are still running. You can view a lot of this footage at beepeeoildisaster on youtube.....he's been recording off their cameras since the incident.

They have stopped the gulf stream, it's not moving anymore. This is the reason europe is under ice. It's only going to get worse. The rest of the oceans now are slowing down.

People do not realize that what happened in the gulf is an event that will soon manifest itself everywhere and effect everyone.

Study to show yourself approved. I wished you could prove me wrong on this...but you can not. We are in very serious trouble.

Don't get me started on what is happening to our sun.

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