Shell to bring Dawson Creek oil well permit back to county

If you go

What: Routt County commissioners hear Shell Oil’s application for a permit to drill the Dawson Creek well south of Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Commissioners' Hearing Room, Routt County Courthouse, 522 Lincoln Ave.

— Shell Oil resumes its effort this week to obtain a Routt County permit to drill the Dawson Creek oil well south of Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

The proposed well pad would be located between four and five miles southeast of Hayden on the east side of Routt County Road 37. The Colorado State Land Board manages the surface land.

The Routt County Board of Commissioners tabled Shell’s permit application in September 2011, though it had received a recommendation of approval from the county Planning Commission.

The current application from Shell indicates that no hydraulic fracturing or stimulation of the well production zone is planned.

Shell’s willingness to drill a groundwater quality monitoring well at Dawson Creek in spite of the fact that they don't plan to use hydraulic fracturing contrasts with Quicksilver Resource’s stance on its own Camilletti oil well near Milner.

When the county commissioners approved a permit July 17 for the fracked Camilletti well requiring a water-monitoring well, Quicksilver officials said they would seek redress with state officials. The next day, they restated their objections to the county's permit conditions and said they wanted to continue working through the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to reach a compromise.

When the commissioners tabled Shell's Dawson Creek permit last fall, they were seeking additional information from the applicant with regard to wildlife protection, county road improvements, groundwater protection, noise level requirements, air quality and prevention of spills of chemical compounds. Subsequently, in December, the commissioners launched a major revision of their conditions of approval for oil and gas well permits.

A revised project description for Dawson Creek, prepared by Peter Patten of Patten Associates on behalf of Shell Oil, notes that Shell has been supportive of the county’s efforts to rewrite its oil and gas conditions of approval, and voluntarily accepted the long-term tabling of the application. Shell representatives participated in a county oil and gas working group in December 2011 and January 2012.

“Shell has reached out to other local citizens, participated in local area oil and gas symposiums, conducted a successful and informative community open house and engaged with local consultants and contractors,” Patten wrote.

Patten described the well pad site as being “somewhat remote in that the distance to the nearest structure is 3,400 feet and the distance to the nearest water well is 4,330 feet.” A seasonal stream 810 feet from the well pad site is the nearest water body.

Since September 2011, Shell’s permit application has been modified to eliminate a lined pit to contain waste byproducts of the drilling process. Instead, a closed-loop system will be used.

Shell previously had planned to incorporate a baseline groundwater-monitoring program, a groundwater-monitoring well and testing of the closest domestic well and a stock pound. Documents supplied by the county Planning staff indicate that since final language for monitoring wells was developed in connection with the county’s approval of Quicksilver Resources' Camilletti well last week, Patten has suggested language changes intended to bring the Dawson Creek application up to date.

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