State gas board doubles life of drilling permits to 2 years
The clock will now run longer for oil and gas companies to act on drilling permits approved by the state.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Monday agreed to an industry request to make permits good for two years rather than one.
Jep Seman, legal counsel for the Colorado Petroleum Association, said the industry is pleased by the decision.
“The number one thing it does is: For operating on federal land, it makes the permit term consistent with what the federal term is,” Seman said.
Companies that drill on federal land must have both federal and state permits.
The change also reduces unnecessary paperwork and recognizes that companies sometimes will drill 20 wells from a pad, making it impossible to drill them all in a year’s time, Seman said.
The rules change applies only to permits that have been issued since new oil and gas rules took effect earlier this year, and for which companies have obtained accompanying permits to deal with surface impacts under the new rules. Based on those provisions, environmental groups didn’t oppose the longer permits. The state’s new oil and gas rules provide greater protections for the environment, wildlife and public health.
One oil and gas commissioner, Rich Alward of Grand Junction, voted against the permit change. In an interview, Alward said the process leading to the revision was incomplete, and he never saw data in support of a longer permit time, or any assessment of potential drawbacks.
“Nothing was presented that convinced me there was really a problem and this rule change was a solution,” Alward said.
He said it may be that the change is an improvement, “but I just didn’t see anything that was convincing that we needed to change our rules so quickly.”
Dave Neslin, director of the oil and gas commission, said the rules overhaul that went into effect earlier this year provides more opportunity for his agency to consult with state wildlife and health officials and get public input about drilling permits. So there should be less need to re-evaluate permits after a year’s time, he said.
“This was an effort by the commission to reach out to the industry and try to accommodate the industry’s needs and help facilitate energy development in the state while ensuring that the environment and the public are properly protected as well,” Neslin said.