Gas compressors built four years ago without Mesa County approval

An energy company did not have approval from Mesa County when it built four natural gas compressors near Collbran four years ago.

The county learned of the infraction by Larime Energy when the company that bought the site, Plains Exploration & Production, applied for a permit to add a fifth compressor. It is the second case of an energy company building without permits that has come to light this year in Mesa County.

In October, Delta Petroleum agreed to pay the city of Collbran $47,000 after the company began building a compressor station northeast of Vega Reservoir without county approvals.

The payment was voluntary and went to Collbran to help repair roads affected by the energy industry.

Larime Energy built and operated the Brush Creek compressor facility six miles northeast of Collbran at 18546 64 3/10 Road.

The site was sold to PXP in April 2007. In August, PXP went to the county with a proposal to add one more compressor. County staff and PXP realized then that no permits were issued for the original construction, said Lorne Prescott of Cordilleran Compliance Services.

Cordilleran was hired by PXP to represent it in the conditional-use permitting process.

On Monday, PXP asked the Mesa County Commission to grant it a permit for the four existing compressors and to build a fifth compressor at the same location.

As a part owner of Cordilleran, Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis recused himself from the discussion, leaving Commissioners Janet Rowland and Steve Acquafresca to debate the merits of PXP’s application. They approved the permit.

Acquafresca asked county planning staff if there are more nonpermitted energy facilities in the county.

“I don’t think so,” said Kurt Larsen, director of planning and development. “How it happened, I have no idea.”

Larsen added that if the company had not proceeded with its conditional-use permit application “this would have been a code enforcement issue.”

If PXP had never applied to the county for a fifth compressor, the county might never have known of the infraction, Rowland said. She said Mesa County Code Enforcement officers do not patrol the county looking for violations. Code enforcement is complaint-driven.

After PXP applied for a permit in August, the county inspected the previous construction and found it to meet code, said Linda Dannenberger, director of land use and development.

“It is a well maintained, properly constructed facility,” Acquafresca said.


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