Shale Daily / NGI All News Access

Would-Be Dallas Driller to Take Fight to Council

Following a second vote by the City of Dallas Plan Commission to deny Trinity East Energy LLC permission for three drill sites within the city limits, Trinity East Energy LLC said it will seek to persuade a super-majority of the 15-member Dallas City Council to grant the permits.

If it is successful, Trinity East could be the first to drill within the city limits, under which lie the Barnett Shale. The appeal could go before the city council next month. Trinity East President Stephen Fort told NGI's Shale Daily that the Thursday afternoon vote by the commission was a disappointment.

"I wouldn't say we're surprised," Fort said. "There's always a lot of people opposed to drilling that show up at these meetings. They all want to speak. Most of them do not even live in Dallas, and they're not property owners here. I wish we'd had more representation from the taxpayers of Dallas because they're the ones that are really going to suffer the impact of this ruling because they don't get to realize the value of a valuable asset that belongs to the citizens of Dallas...

"...[W]we paid the city $19 million for the rights to drill and produce that gas, and now they're denying it through this permitting process, and we just want the benefit of our bargain."

The commission denied the permits for the first time in December but then voted to reconsider the decision (see Shale Daily, Jan. 8). Citizens mounted a vigorous campaign opposing the permits, which if granted, would have allowed Trinity East to drill on city park land and within a flood plain, both activities opponents said are prohibited by city ordinance.

According to press reports, the Plan Commission vote elicited a standing ovation from drilling opponents Thursday. Also at the meeting, according to Fort, was David Martineau, chairman of Texas Independent Producers and Royalty Owners (TIPRO). Martineau wrote about Trinity East's fight in Dallas in the most recent TIPRO newsletter.

"This case raises another important issue regarding the appropriate level of industry regulation by local and city governments," Martineau wrote. "Just the same with overly-burdensome, unnecessary regulations on the federal level, sometimes excessive regulation through local ordinances and action by city councils can effectively halt the production of oil and gas in a community or town."

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