Ignacio firm targeted over well maintenance

State officials are proposing $110,000 in fines against Ignacio-based Maralex Resources over an alleged failure to follow testing and other requirements for nine nonproducing wells in Mesa and Garfield counties.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission was scheduled this week to consider finding Maralex in violation of its rules and imposing the fine recommended by its staff, but the matter has been postponed until its October hearing.

Commission staff say eight of the wells never have produced, and the ninth ceased production in 2009. None of the wells has ever had mechanical integrity tests, designed to identify deficiencies that could lead to problems such as leaking, agency officials contend.

The oil and gas commission requires wells to undergo such tests within two years of being shut in and every five years afterward.

Another commission rule lets companies temporarily abandon wells for more than six months, but only with the approval of the agency director and after giving reasons for the abandonment and future plans for the well.

Wells not receiving such approval must be plugged and abandoned within six months of last production, according to that rule, which staff also say Maralex has violated in the case of two of the wells.

Maralex owner A.M. O’Hare was unavailable for comment Monday.

Altogether, the commission is considering $10,000 fines apiece for violating 11 rules. That’s the maximum allowable per violation under its rules, barring circumstances such as a waste of resources or damage to public health, safety or the environment, which COGCC staff say hasn’t occurred in this case.


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