Antero discusses GarCo drilling plans
Area includes Battlement Mesa
BATTLEMENT MESA — Around 400 people crowded a gym Wednesday night to hear Antero Resources lay out plans to begin drilling for natural gas later this year within Garfield County’s Battlement Mesa development.
The Denver-based company eventually may drill up to 200 wells from 10 pads within the 5,500-person subdivision. Antero and developer Battlement Mesa Co. announced the drilling plans Wednesday.
“Everyone has been caught off guard by this. Very few people seem to know anything about it,” resident Carol Morton said in an interview.
“It occurs to me that the Battlement Mesa Co. has sold out the community…” resident Dave Devanney said before being drowned out by applause during Wednesday’s meeting.
Eric Schmela, president of Battlement Mesa Co., told reporters earlier Wednesday there was no way for the company to stop the drilling because it owns few of the mineral rights in the 3,000-acre subdivision.
ExxonMobil is the primary mineral rights owner in the subdivision.
Exxon originally designed the development to house workers for its Parachute oil shale project, which it ended in 1982. When Battlement Mesa Co. bought the development in 1989, it reached a surface use agreement with Exxon for oil and gas development.
That agreement provided for 14 well pads, but the new agreement reduces that number by four, and Schmela said it is a better one for the development. Antero has agreed to numerous provisions designed to reduce visual, noise, dust and other impacts on residents and the development’s golf course.
Drilling in subdivisions is unusual in rural western Colorado. But drilling operations can be found in towns across the country, said Kevin Kilstrom, Antero’s vice president of production.
Antero has experience drilling in residential areas in Texas, and when it began gas development between Rifle and Silt, it voluntarily consented to what was considered a landmark community agreement aimed at reducing impacts.
“We have a lot of pride in how we’ve been able to generally resolve any issues that have come up,” Kilstrom told reporters Wednesday.
Battlement Mesa is the largest unincorporated community in Garfield County. Schmela said it may house another 5,000 people once it’s fully developed.
As part of its agreement, Antero has volunteered to contribute a total of $1 million over four years for community projects.
State rules require drilling rigs to be at least 350 feet from high-density residential areas.
Antero expects none of its Battlement Mesa rigs to be closer than about 500 feet from a home.