Matthew Holman, a project lead for Shell Exploration & Production Company, speaks Monday with the Moffat County Commission and other county officials about Shell’s oil drilling interest in the area. Holman said the company plans to drill seven to 12 exploratory wells near Hamilton and other areas to test the local portions of a geological layer, called the Niobrara formation, during the summer.

Photo by Brian Smith

Matthew Holman, a project lead for Shell Exploration & Production Company, speaks Monday with the Moffat County Commission and other county officials about Shell’s oil drilling interest in the area. Holman said the company plans to drill seven to 12 exploratory wells near Hamilton and other areas to test the local portions of a geological layer, called the Niobrara formation, during the summer.

Oil company planning to drill exploratory wells in Moffat County

Shell Exploration & Production Company meets with county officials Monday

Matthew Holman, a project lead for Shell Exploration & Production Company, sat Monday in a room of Moffat County officials with a map of Northwest Colorado spread out on the table.

“You don’t find too many areas like this on Mother Earth,” he said looking at the map.

Holman and other Shell officials met with the Moffat County Commission and other county officials to discuss the oil company’s interest in the area around Craig, a recent mineral leasing effort throughout the county, and the possibility of exploratory oil drilling and production that could take place in the summer.

“What we are doing here is laying the ground work for several years of engagement if we should be so lucky as to find something that merits a larger project out here,” Holman said. “And, we are hopeful. I like the play.”

Holman said Shell plans to start drilling exploratory wells to test the amount of oil available in the local portions of a geological layer, known as the Niobrara formation, in the summer. Shell’s area of drilling interest is located mostly in the Hamilton area, south of Craig, but extends east to Routt County in places, Holman said.

“At this point, we don’t know if the play is a total bust or if there is a lot of oil there or what the deal is,” he said.

The company plans to drill seven to 12 exploratory wells to determine if the area is worth increased future production, Holman said.

“So, basically the idea is we would like to drill as much as we possibly could to learn as much as we could about the play so we can make a decision after this first round of drilling and say, ‘Well, it looks like we are either on to something here, or we are not on to something here,’ instead of dribbling it out over the years,” he said. “Knock it out and be done.

“With luck … there will be something to do and then we can go to the next step, which would be subsequent appraisal on a little bit more refined area.”

Carolyn Tucker, Shell community relations representative, said it would be hard to know what could spur along the development of the drilling interest.

“Our intention is that we wouldn’t be here looking if we didn’t think there was some promise to the play,” she said. “And I think we will be in a much better position down the road when we understand cost, when we understand … how easy it is to drill to the target zone and if it does flow.”

Tucker noted, however, the drilling and oil production processes take a long time to mature.

“This isn’t going to happen overnight by any means,” she said. “This is going to be a two-, three-, five-year process where we gain enough information to make decisions and make good decisions.”

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers asked Shell officials if, when they are doing experimental drilling, there would be supplementary business for local contractors to provide.

“We try to use as much of the local resource as we can,” Holman said.

Commissioner Tom Gray said he thinks a lot of local businesses are eyeing Shell’s activity, and the activity of other oil companies, with a good deal of interest in hopes it would become an economic benefit to the area.

“But, under the heading of reality, I want the message to be, ‘This isn’t 500 people here for the next five years in the exploratory phase,’” he said. “Methodically, if these pan out, then there will be more and in a five-year build up, you might have that many people come into the area, 500 new jobs.

“But, initially we are looking at maybe three months of a couple hundred jobs, and that includes the contractor jobs and everybody.”

Gray noted, however, even the company’s pre-drilling presence has had a sizeable, positive impact on the local economy.

Tucker said Shell’s presence in the area is “not the silver bullet to fix the economy in Craig.”

“I can’t stress that enough — it is a long, slow process,” she said. “It is not jobs tomorrow.”

Brian Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or briansmith@craigdailypress.com.

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Comments

bunkhousebarbie 3 years, 2 months ago

Neighbors to the south cut off their nose to spite their face and lost a lot of revenue. The county implemented an impact fee (tax) and many of the real estate owners and shop keepers raised their prices to take advantage of the incoming workers/tenants. Negotiate and communicate with the companies and you'll all come out ahead.

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leroymcgee 3 years, 2 months ago

Interesting how the Commissioners for years have been pushing oil and gas as the "silver bullet" to Moffat County's economy...but the actual companies who do this development continue to stress that any economic benefit will be slow and drawn out--if they even find economically feasible oil in the first place. Thanks Mr. Tucker--your straight talk is something this county needs.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

I have one question for Shell and the County Commissioners who brought this to our community without a vote & without informing the citizens of the dire consequences of deep drilling & it's chemicals:

Are you all ready to get the snot sued out of you when the drilling fractures the underground water reserves (to all of us with deep wells) and either drains the water from our reserves or poisons it with horrible chemicals rendering our properties totally useless? ( I'm sure the cost of our homes is pocket change to what you made by the oil & gas companies-hopefully you've set some aside to reimburse us all.)

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

To all Moffat County citizens:

(Esp. for those with wells & even on city water for that matter) I HIGHLY recommend you get water test kits immediately and have your water tested BEFORE the drilling begins, so you will have the before and after results of your water quality before the chemicals get into it, in case you need to file lawsuits when your water is totally poisoned or gone.

You need to look out for yourselves, since obviously the politicians and gas & oil guys won't.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

DO NOT give your samples to local water companies for testing. Be sure to send out of the area for obvious reasons.

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leaflady 3 years, 2 months ago

The money they give you will not do you or your family any good when you can't drink your water........... Gasland, Colorado is one of the "stars". How sad is that.

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wellwell 3 years, 2 months ago

onewhocares and/or others:

What are the "horrible chemicals" and how do they get in the ground water?

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kathleenpost 3 years, 2 months ago

Every year more teens and young adults die in oil tank explosions and 2 teens died in 2007 in Rio Blanco county explosion in an unsigned unfenced facility.I noticed that Craig facilitys are not signed and fenced in cases.How about blocking off the public from your volitile facilitys?If these companys want to sign and fence, thats shows respect for life and the community,left unsigned and unfenced they are death traps.Locals should make them do it before they can do anything.The government obviously doesnt care to make them do it.Also they should be insured,have disaster clean up plans and money set asside to do that.Enviromental studys and demand for proper upkeep on facilitys,money set aside to dismantle ,update old wells,dont just leave them sitting around.You have to force them to do things properly and safely,they dont want to answer to anyone.I am only concerned about the safety,my kid was one that died in that 2007 explosion and every year there are more deaths.Texas last year Oklahoma and Mississippi in 2009.Over 40 young people in the last few years alone,not to mention those injured(youth in Hayden )I dont want these things to happen to even one of your kids!See the CSB(Chemical Safety Bureau) has a safety video out "No place to hang out" please take the time to watch this.People are working to change the laws to stop these needless deaths. Question:If the fracking does contaminate the water ,what is the remedy?Will it go away eventually or compromise the water forever?How will people do without their water?How could anyone ever compensate you for your loss of water?Not possible ,I say.Will the livestock suffer?

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

Well well, If you type "chemicals used in fracturing" in google, you will get countless articles on the subject. On such article at : http://www.earthworksaction.org/FracingDetails.cfm#CONTAMINATION lists, these as beginners: diesel fuel(which contains benzene), ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide. "Very small quantities of chemicals such as benzene, which causes cancer, are capable of contaminating millions of gallons of water."

And of course the poisons in the air are extremely hazardous to livestock and any wildlife as well. People just have no idea what they are doing by letting these gas & oil predators onto their lands or what the commissioners have done by selling the lands out !!!!

Kathleen, thank you very much for your information and I am really sorry to hear about your son. I'm sure we will see this happen time & again in the near future since the gas & oil guys doing this have zero ethics or accountability.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

Sorry well well, to answer the 2nd part of your question, they pump the chemicals deep into the ground to fracture the shale, of course penetrating and contaminating the underground water ways or just leaching into water ways. I can't begin to imagine what this will do to the Yampa and all the fish and wildlife that drink from it.

I highly recommend doing a little research on the internet so you can see how many towns, ranches and people's lives have been completely destroyed by this practice. (that is not even including the deadly illness caused from it.)

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GreyStone 3 years, 2 months ago

You people are causing yourself a lot of unnecessary grief and frustration over something you have absolutely no control over, even if you do own minerals, and surface, the oil exploration and production will push forward, take your oil and move on. Other than an armed confrontation, which will only land you to jail, there is no way to stop this process, because you live in America where Capitalism is the big Magoo.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

United States Constitution: First Amendment Amendment I

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

Amendment II "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

I don't see anywhere that says gas & oil companies can revoke these rights, do you?

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als362 3 years, 2 months ago

I am thinking that over the next several years this area will look like the area between Rifle and Grd. Jct. has for the last several years. New rigs going up all the time all over the place. Just what I feel is going to happen, it is very possible that I am totally wrong.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

Just out of curiosity: Question to Tom Mathers & Tom G & Audrey (if you own a ranch). How many rigs have you agreed to go up on your own ranches & how close will they be to your ranch homes & water supplies? Just curious. I feel we the public have a right to know considering you sold the public's leases to the gas & oil companies & have allowed for them to put rigs up in our own backyards-what about yours?

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leaflady 3 years, 2 months ago

All living things suffer ground/water contamination. Go to your Blockbuster store and rent Gasland

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kp81625 3 years, 2 months ago

This kind of drilling has ruined Silt Mesa in Garfield County. I don't know if any of you saw the recent article in the Glenwood Post about a house up there on the Mesa whose water is flammable!!! Or the many stories about people who are sick and are getting sicker down in that area. If this comes to a public vote, I will vote against it. I don't want this industry in my back yard or my front yard or any where near here.

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justthefacts 3 years, 2 months ago

Fact: You don't get to vote!!!! These wells will be on private land!!

Fact: The same private land of Farmers and Ranchers that will make lots of money from these wells.

Fact: You can vote on giving these same millionaire ranchers tax breaks on equipment, because if you don't they will shop some place else in another community.

Just The no commitment to the Community that you make your living in Facts.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

Post Independent staff Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado http://www.postindependent.com/article/20101209/VALLEYNEWS/101209884&parentprofile=search

FORT WORTH, Texas — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it has found evidence that gas drilling activities in Texas either caused or contributed to contamination of domestic water wells.

According to a statement issued late Tuesday, the agency “has ordered a natural gas company in Fort Worth … to take immediate action to protect homeowners living near one of their drilling operations.”

The homeowners, according to the EPA, “have complained about flammable and bubbling drinking water coming out of their tap.”

The company, Range Resources Corp., on Wednesday denied that their drilling activities had contaminated local water wells, arguing that their gas drilling work is aimed at the Barnett Shale formation, “which is over a mile below the water zone.”

Tests of the water wells showed “extremely high levels of methane” which “pose an imminent and substantial risk of explosion or fire,” according to the EPA.

The tests also revealed “other contaminants, including benzene, which can cause cancer, in their drinking water,” the EPA stated.

Benzene is one of the substances often found in solutions used in hydraulic fracturing, or “frac'ing,” which involves the injection of millions of gallons of water, along with sand and chemical agents, to break up deep rock formations and allow oil or gas to flow more freely to the surface.

The EPA's announcement conflicts with numerous statements by oil and gas industry officials, who have said repeatedly that there has never been conclusive evidence that their activities pose a hazard to domestic wells or underground reserves of drinking water.

Donna Gray, a spokesperson for Williams Production, a gas drilling company working both in Texas and in Garfield County, said the company would not comment on the matter on Wednesday.

But, she remarked, “Industry has maintained there has been no contamination of domestic water wells by frac'ing fluid, but not drilling.”

She said the industry acknowledges that there have been isolated instances when gas wells have contaminated nearby water sources.

One such example, she said, was the Dietrich family's water well, located on land south of Silt, which was found to be contaminated by nearby drilling activities in 2004.

A separate instance of gas drilling activities polluting local waterways was the Divide Creek Seep case, also in 2004, when chemicals from the gas drilling process was found seeping into the creek. That case lead to a fine of $371,000 levied against the EnCana gas company by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Another industry spokesman, David Ludlam of the Western Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association in Grand Junction, indicated skepticism about the EPA's findings......................

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GreyStone 3 years, 2 months ago

Get your FACTS up to date…..OIL….. not Gas.

Oilfield services company Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI) says that the number of units looking specifically for oil in the U.S. has nearly doubled in the past year. Fully 47% of operating U.S. rigs are drilling for oil, no money in gas production.

Do a little more research and you might find some current data. Haliburton has created a fracking fluid called CleanStim, which is made from ingredients in processed foods. Baker Hughes is in the process of making BJ SmartCare, which is made of some of the same ingredients as CleanStim. Flotek’s key product is complex nano-fluids (microemulsifiers), and another successful fracking fluid made of citrus. Both are environment friendly and are good for improving production and reservoir integrity in unconventional oil and natural gas completions.

Most of the current fracking fluid products are not what your Grandfather was dealing with

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GreyStone 3 years, 2 months ago

Benzene and Methane can get in your water supply from coal mining, cows, cars, trucks so lets shut down all coal mining.. Shut down all oil & gas production and quit driving around in cars and trucks, then go inside and shut off the lights and heat, sounds like nirvana .

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taxslave 3 years, 2 months ago

"Woe unto them who destroy the earth". They are destroying the water to force migrate people from certain areas to other designated areas. See Agenda 21. Google it.

This nation has been brainwashed. For the sheeple to believe anything it must be on cnn or fox.

"My people perish for lack of knowledge". better wake up.

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slipknot 3 years, 2 months ago

The Sky is falling The Sky is falling. If I read this right they (Shell E&P) plan on drilling in and around Hamilton, where there are already existing wells, and from former experience, there already exists producing wells between Hamilton and Steamboat, on Forest Service property, more than 50 miles from Craig. You all are gritching now, but wait until the money starts coming in and you'll change your story. Hopefully you'll be wiser than the town south of you and make better decisions with the bounty you have been given

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GreyStone 3 years, 2 months ago

There are producing wells all around , within 2 miles of the City of Craig that have been there for 40 of 50 years, no water contamination, ….what’s up with that? How is it that this Oil & Gas thing has become such a burr under the saddle of some people at this late date…where were you 50 years back? At one time, there was a Texaco oil refinery South of Murdoch’s, we never got any sick kids or bad water, although there were a lot more drunks and bar fights.

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als362 3 years, 2 months ago

I have a tendency to agree with Grey Stone. If you want to drive your car, there are certain things that must be tollerated. Just like if you want electricity, then you have to look at power lines and power plants.

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onewhocares 3 years, 2 months ago

I guess only time will tell....man NEVER learns and Moffat County is obviously no different. We'll just see what damage is done by the fracturing and what all the pro drillers have to say when our water is ruined and the people get even sicker with cancer & disease than they all ready do. The problem is: then it is too late.

(fyi: I'm not against drilling per se, I'm against how close to homes, towns & water supplies it will be. There should be at least a 20 mile safe zone from the nearest town for obvious safety reasons. As for the current rigs, who is to say they are not contributing to the excessively high cancer rate all ready?)

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GreyStone 3 years, 1 month ago

The documentary Gasland has attracted wide attention. Among other things, it alleges that the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells has contaminated nearby water wells with methane in a number of states including Colorado. Because an informed public debate on hydraulic fracturing depends on accurate information, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) would like to correct several errors in the film’s portrayal of the Colorado incidents.

http://cogcc.state.co.us/library/GASLAND%20DOC.pdf

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Jon Pfeifer 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm torn. GreyStone is right that some companies have developed frac'ing fluids that are probably pretty safe to use. However, there's no requirement (as far as I know) that exploring companies use those materials. Absent a requirement, companies will use whatever is most efficient (a combination of cheapest and most effective) because they are businesses. They will also factor in risks of lawsuits to their bottom line, but I don't think it is a big factor. It is incredibly hard to trace contamination of water supplies, even from factories dumping straight into a river. Imagine proving that the fluids injected a mile or so underground somehow leached into a water supply (and doing that against the almost unlimited funds for law firms of energy companies). I agree there should be a safe buffer between water sources/watersheds and frac'ing (not necessarily towns). I don't have any idea how large that buffer should be. If I had a well, I would be pretty scared if I knew there were frac'ing for oil or gas near it.

On the other hand, it is irresponsible to consume energy (which we all do) and to oppose domestic exploration of energy at all costs. I think domestic energy production should be pursued. There is probably a way to do this without poisoning us all. I think the real problem is that nobody trusts our politicians enough to believe they will actually implement good controls. (And we all know that energy companies have a ton of money... and there are no longer any limits on how much they can contribute to political campaigns thanks to our dear Supreme Court).

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GreyStone 3 years, 1 month ago

SmallTowner,

Colorado has some very good regulations for the Oil & Gas people. My first link was not good…this might help.

http://cogcc.state.co.us/ February 18, 2011 PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENTS
Gasland Correction Document (10/29/2010) Because an informed public debate requires accurate information, the COGCC has corrected several errors in Gasland's portrayal of Colorado incidents.

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GreyStone 3 years ago

Energy companies to post fracking chemicals online

Denver Business Journal - by Cathy Proctor Date: Thursday, April 7, 2011, 5:29pm MDT

Oil and gas companies operating in Colorado are among many that say they will voluntarily disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

The technique — also known as “fracking” — that blasts water, sand and chemicals into rock layers deep underground to unlock oil and gas. The companies are uploading data, including well locations, this week to a website created by the Groundwater Protection Council, a national association of groundwater protection agencies, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, an interstate commission created in 1935. Both are located in Oklahoma City.

The website, www.fracfocus.org, will feature that data starting Monday.

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GreyStone 3 years ago

“As of 5 p.m. [Thursday], we had 28 companies — up from 18 this morning,” said Mike Paque, executive director of the Groundwater Protection Council. “We had 70 wells and frack jobs registered this morning, and 200 this afternoon. Who knows what will happen over the weekend? But we expect that number to climb.”

Companies uploading data include some with operations in Colorado, such as Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC), Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK), Williams Cos. Inc. (NYSE: WMB), and Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL), Paque said.

Denver’s Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc., a subsidiary of Encana Corp. (NYSE: ECA), also plans to upload information, spokesman Doug Hock said.

The website will include information about oil and gas wells drilled on or after Jan. 1, 2011, including company names, well locations, ...

Oil and gas companies operating in Colorado are among many that say they will voluntarily disclose the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

The technique — also known as “fracking” — that blasts water, sand and chemicals into rock layers deep underground to unlock oil and gas.

The companies are uploading data, including well locations, this week to a website created by the Groundwater Protection Council, a national association of groundwater protection agencies, and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, an interstate commission created in 1935. Both are located in Oklahoma City.

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taxslave 2 years, 12 months ago

Very bad fracking fluid accident today. Someone needs to hold the commissioners accountable and guarantee a lawsuit fund for future payouts.

"The love of money is the root of ALL evil", and you can see for yourself the city and county are all about "show me the money".

Without water you either die or move.

http://www.wnep.com/wnep-brad-leroy-gas-drillingemergency20110420,0,1884646.story

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