Fram’s plans can be good for the region

When word of a possible new gas field becomes public, especially in the midst of a recession, people take notice. When that new gas field involves the largest federal oil and gas production unit in the state, people looking for work become enthusiastic.

Witness the response Fram Operating LLC has seen since the Bureau of Land Management began seeking public comment early last month on Fram’s proposal to drill up to 500 gas wells on 90,000 acres on the western flanks of Grand Mesa.

“It’s unbelievable the volume of phone calls we’ve received from people looking for work and people in the industry and whatnot,” said David Cook, manager of the Colorado Springs based company, which is a subsidiary of the Norwegian firm, Fram Exploration AS.

We hope Fram is able to proceed with its drilling and production plans before long, and thereby meet some of the obvious pent-up demand for jobs in this region.

Beyond the jobs issue, development of Fram’s gas field can help provide a long-term source of natural gas that, thanks in part to recently passed state legislation, is poised to become even more important for electric generation.

Efforts to boost the use of compressed natural gas as a vehicle fuel are also under way, and they could further increase demand.

It would be the height of hypocrisy for people in this area to accept the benefits of increased use of natural gas — such as reduced air pollution and low cost — but object to development of a new gas field because it’s in our own backyard.

That’s not to say we should ignore all environmental issues in the name of jobs. But that’s not occurring. As a story in Friday’s Daily Sentinel noted, one of the primary concerns is how Fram’s proposal will affect water resources, particularly those in the city of Grand Junction’s watershed.

Those concerns will have to be addressed by the BLM as it completes its environmental evaluation, and by Fram.

However, since acquiring the leases that extend from south of Palisade almost to Delta, Fram has not been insensitive to environmental issues.

Furthermore, Cook said the company expects much, if not all,  of its planned drilling can be accomplished without fracking, the chemical injection technique used to increase well production that some people find objectionable.

Additionally, Cook said Fram plans to use directional drilling, with up to 10 wells drilled from each well pad. That will substantially reduce the number of individual well sites, roads and related facilities.

As the BLM continues its environmental evaluation of Fram’s plans we hope it can address the questions raised quickly and effectively. Job seekers and others must recognize, however, that even if BLM approval is forthcoming, market conditions will determine how quickly the company moves toward full production.

Meanwhile, we welcome Fram to the area. We hope the company,  like other gas firms operating in the region, will be an active participant in the community life of the Grand Valley and surrounding region.


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