BLM to assess oil-drilling proposal for area near Whitewater

The company that hit oil when drilling earlier this year for natural gas near Whitewater is now taking direct aim at oil with a new drilling plan.

Fram Operating LLC struck oil as it was drilling exploratory wells southeast of Grand Junction for what was anticipated to be a 500-well natural gas project.

Now Fram is gearing up for oil production from about 26,000 acres, all in Mesa County, in a reworked plan.

The original proposal “is no longer on the table,” Bureau of Land Management spokesman David Boyd said.

Instead, Fram now is proposing to drill 108 wells from 12 new wellpads in the same area.

The BLM is beginning its environmental assessment of the project and will host an open house Nov. 8 to collect comments.

Fram officials didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment, but the project appears to pose a “significant economic-development opportunity,” David Ludlam of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association said.

As proposed, Fram is putting forth a “modest and thoughtful development,” Ludlam said. “It’s a much-needed project in context of 8.5 percent or higher unemployment” in the Grand Valley.

People who commented on the drilling project as first proposed should remember that the BLM’s new environmental study and any previous comments no longer will apply, Boyd said.

The new study is to be complete in time for Fram to begin a four-year drilling program beginning in 2012.

The public open house will be 4 to 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at the Grand Junction DoubleTree Inn, 743 Horizon Drive.

Interested individuals may stop by anytime during the open house to learn more and provide written comments.

Written comments will be most helpful if received by Dec. 1 and should be sent to the Grand Junction Field Office, 2815 H Road, Grand Junction 81506. Comments also can be submitted via email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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