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Colorado Regulators Move Ahead on Two Local Control Rulemakings

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) will hold hearings Monday and Tuesday in Denver to hammer out new rules to implement two recommendations made early this year by Gov. John Hickenlooper's statewide local control task force (see Shale Daily, Feb. 25).

A COGCC spokesperson told NGI's Shale Daily the regulators are unlikely to adopt the new rules at the hearings.

On the table are Recommendations No. 17 and No. 20, which deal with:

  • COGCC setting rules to address local government collaboration with operators on large-scale facilities in urban mitigation areas; and
  • Operators' plans for future drilling and production facilities being included in existing local comprehensive planning processes.

The hearings may have to spill over into the Dec. 7 commission meeting, according to commission officials.

Overall, the task force proposals, which Hickenlooper has praised, include allowing for more input by local communities on regulatory activity, expanding the COGCC staff, creating an information clearinghouse for the public, and cracking down on truck traffic around wellsites

Action on the two outstanding recommendations comes after the COGCC conducted a series of 11 meetings with local governments to discuss implementation of the two recommendations for creating more local involvement in oil/gas activities (see Shale Daily, July 27). From initial outreach meetings, COGCC was told that definitions for what are considered large oil/gas projects need to vary with each jurisdiction.

The proposed definition for large urban mitigation area facilities (large UMA) would use total cumulative measured depth and length of well bores from a given site. "The proposed total 90,000 feet of well bore length is approximately equivalent to eight horizontal wells completed in the Niobrara formation with a horizontal lateral length of 4,360 feet," COGCC Director Matt Lepore wrote last month in outlining the draft rules for implementing the two recommendations.

Regarding the local submittal of future drilling plans, the initial draft language would make the local registration requirement effective March 1 next year, and it would apply only to municipalities -- not counties -- but that was also singled out as needing further discussion.

"During the staff's outreach meetings many questions were raised regarding both the exclusion of counties from the registration/information requirements, and the logic behind and usefulness of basing a five-year estimate of the number of wells an operator plans to drill in a municipality on the operator's ‘proved undeveloped’ reserves as reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission,” Lepore said.

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