Spring decision seen on Whitewater-area oil drilling plan

A federal decision on a proposed oil-drilling project southeast of Grand Junction should be done by spring, federal officials said.

Fram Exploration ASA is planning to drill 108 wells on 12 pads in the Whitewater area.

The federal agency said Wednesday it planned to announce its decision soon, prompting David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, to welcome the development as an economic boost.

“In this environment and economy, another rigs program is a good thing for the valley,” Ludlam said.

WPX Energy this week said it would add two rigs to its drilling program in the Piceance Basin.

One rig accounts for about 50 direct jobs.

Dave Cook, manager for Fram, said he was pleased that the process was moving forward.

The Bureau of Land Management was conducting a cultural-resource study of potential access routes to the project as part of its decision whether to approve the project on 26,000 acres about 15 miles east and southeast of Grand Junction and north of Kannah Creek.

A decision on the project should be announced in March or April, Katie Stevens, Grand Junction Field office manager, said in discussing leasing for energy-related projects at the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce energy luncheon.

The BLM is looking at the possibility of using B Road for access to the project rather than the preferred route along C Road.

Mesa County had supported B Road, noting it was designed for heavy-truck traffic and is more easily accessible from Colorado Highway 141, but commissioners said they didn’t necessarily oppose the C Road access.

The BLM also is considering several solar energy locations in the county, Stevens said.


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