Editorial: Cautious optimism
February 23, 2011
Shell recently announced it would seek to drill seven to 12 exploratory oil wells this summer and the Editorial Board considers that good news. But, we would like to see the company continue to be open about its intentions, use our local companies when needed, and continue to stress the project is not the savior to our local economy just yet.
A few months ago, our community started hearing rumors about oil and gas companies being interested in drilling in this area.
For a place desperately seeking economic relief, the rumors were something to be excited about.
As many companies started leasing mineral acres in Moffat County, we saw a healthy boost into everybody's pockets.
But, the matter of drilling and oil production remained somewhat of a mystery.
Would they drill? Or would they walk away?
Recently, Shell Oil Company told Moffat County officials they would seek to drill seven to 12 exploratory wells this summer to determine if the area is worth increased future oil production.
That's good news, the Editorial Board contends.
But, while many of us would love to see Shell come into the area and start producing oil on a large scale, in effect putting great amounts of money back into the economy, we need to be realistic about the issue.
Exploratory drilling on the scale Shell has announced won't be the silver bullet to fix our economy, as one representative put it, and we agree.
It simply means there is some interest and maybe they won't even find what they're looking for.
Sure, exploratory wells mean some jobs for the scope of the project. They also mean some increases in the local economy, but we can't put so much stock in the oil interest that we forget about the other developments that are helping sustain our economy.
Shell has also expressed interest in hiring local companies to provide supporting services for the summer drilling.
We simply love that idea.
We have many local contractors and businesses with the capacity and skills to assist Shell with their operations. The more we can help, the better.
We also think the company would have increased community reception and a better standing among those undecided about the drilling issue if they were to partner with our local companies.
Another way to accomplish that goal of increased community support is organizing a series of local informational meetings.
There is no reason, the Editorial Board contends, that Shell should be secretive about their intentions or operations in the area. Get the ranchers, landowners, mineral owners and stakeholders into a room and talk it out.
The more our community understands about drilling operations, its impact and its ultimate benefits, the better.
And the more our community understands about a balanced approach to the sudden increase in drilling interest, the better.
We have said it before and think it is worth repeating — if things go well, and there is massive oil production, we can't go hog wild.
We can't go into more debt adding massive improvements and upgrades on the back of such an unstable industry. We need to pay as we go and upgrade the infrastructure that is here.
Like most things, it's about balance and cautious optimism. Our community's future is no different.