Colorado drilling applications soar |

Colorado drilling applications soar

Phillip Yates
Garfield County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colorado ” The prospect of new rules for the oil and gas industry hasn’t seemed to diminish the rush for drilling permits in Colorado.

Dave Neslin, acting director of the Col-orado Oil and Gas Conservation Commis-sion, said the number of drilling permit applications for the first two months this year is up 50 percent com-pared to the same two months in 2007.

“Certainly, there is nothing to suggest that development or planned develop-ment has diminished,” Neslin said at the Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum meeting in Rifle on Thursday.

Neslin said the surge in the applications is probably not an attempt by the industry to secure more permits in advance of rules the commission is now drafting for the oil and gas industry. Two of the largest natural gas companies in Garfield County previously have said they haven’t tried to get more permits in advance of the new rules.

Neslin cautioned it was hard to read anything into the drilling permit numbers for the first two months of the year because it is a “pretty small sampling.”

For the first two months of 2008, the commission has approved 418 drilling permits for Garfield County. Those 418 permits accounted for 44 percent of all drilling permits issued in the state for the first two months of the year.

The commission approved 2,550 drilling permits in the county in 2007 and expects to issue about 3,200 permits in 2008, according to the agency’s projections.

David Boyd, a spokesman for the Bureau of Land Management, told the dozens of people at the oil and gas meet-ing that the agency’s field offices have issued 166 drilling permits since Oct. 1. The BLM expects to issue about 800 per-mits this fiscal year.

Of all the drilling permits in Garfield and Mesa Counties, 14 percent of the per-mits were for federal mineral leases, while the remaining 86 percent were for private leases, Boyd said. The state received about $123 million from federal mineral sharing revenue in the federal government’s 2007 fiscal year.

Other updates at the meeting included:

– Therese Pilonetti, program manager for institutional environmental health programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, gave a presentation about the state’s regulations on temporary housing facilities, which can include “man camps” at area gas rigs to house workers.

She said the state is working on updat-ing the state’s labor camp regulations, which haven’t been updated since 1968.

“These facilities allow you to do your jobs and keep our communities safe,” Pilonetti said. “We just want them to be safe for the occupants and the communi-ty they are located in.”

– Jamie Adkins, northwest area engi-neering supervisor for the commission, said agency staff are now working out of an office in Rifle, but added that staff does not yet have access to landline phones. How-ever, staff members are using their cell phones and are at the office five days a week, Adkins said.

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