Silt residents ask officials to stop EnCana from drilling
Two residents south of Silt say an energy company is rushing to complete work on wells before the state can consider imposing a moratorium on oil and gas development in the area to protect water while the possible threat of contamination is evaluated.
Lisa Bracken is asking Garfield County and state officials to take immediate action to stop EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) from fracturing wells that have been drilled.
Bracken and Jim Eubanks fear the fracturing, designed to crack open underground formations to let gas flow, could result in gas contaminating ground and surface water.
The work is scheduled to begin on one well pad today, when county commissioners also are expected to consider Bracken’s request that the county seek a temporary restraining order.
Bracken also asked the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to order a stop to the work.
The wells are in the area of the West Divide Creek gas seep, which resulted in EnCana being fined $371,200 by the state in 2004 after gas and benzene from a well appeared in the creek.
EnCana has resumed drilling in the area after the state lifted a previous moratorium there.
County commissioners recently agreed at Bracken’s request to seek another moratorium because she believes the new drilling is causing new seeps.
Bracken and Eubanks cite problems in recent months with EnCana wells in the area, including “kicks” of high gas pressure and a leak of groundwater into a well that wasn’t yet producing gas.
But the state and EnCana say the drilling is safe.
“We’ve done repeated testing. COGCC has done repeated testing. They’ve found no evidence that drilling is impacting groundwater,” said EnCana spokesman Doug Hock.
Eubanks said EnCana went back on a promise to not start fracturing on a well pad near his home until late May, which would give the state time to consider a new moratorium.
Instead, he said, “They’re going like a house afire. They’re pushing everything they can, and what they’re trying to do is beat us to the punch.”
Hock said EnCana never committed to Eubanks that it would hold off on the fracturing.
He added that EnCana has been proceeding more slowly than normal on the work because of low natural gas prices.
He said EnCana has obtained the required permission from the state to do the fracturing.