Rio Grande County
Del Norte Area
San Francisco & Old Woman’s Creek Applications to Drill
As of May 13, 2013
The First Liberty Energy project well on Old Woman's Creek near Del Norte has been capped and sealed without finding any financially viable hydrocarbon yield. First Liberty conducted exploratory fracking at the zone of most potential. This was not a lateral frack but one along the main bore. First Liberty has publically stated that they will not be pursuing any other explorations at this time. For a comprehensive story on this please go to this link.
Here is a Valley Courier report on the latest hydrological study results. Click here
You can download and study the Rio Grande County Hydrological Study by going to this link and scrolling down to RGC Hydro Study.
We are currently awaiting for the Draft Environmental Assessment (EA) on the permit to drill on San Francisco Creek from the Bureau of Land Management. The EA is likely to be released on or around June 1.
There are currently two oil and gas drilling permits granted by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) for the entire San Luis Valley and they are both located in Rio Grande County. One is located along San Francisco Creek in the eastern foothills of the San Juan Mountains, the other is next to an abandoned well site from the 1980’s, along Old Woman’s Creek, near the Town of Del Norte, CO. San Francisco Creek is a tributary to the Rio Grande, just a few miles downstream of the proposed drilling. Dan A. Hughes, from Texas, wants to explore a small seam of sedimentary deposits that was previously explored in the early 1960s & 80’s. At that time, it was judged to be too small to be economically feasible. Hughes and First Liberty, who is speculating along Old Woman’s Creek, is calculating that new methods that drill directly into the source rock and the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) might yield more hydrocarbons. The Old Womans Creek drill site has been sealed and abandoned after not finding commercially viable oil yield.
SLVEC organized area residents in 2010 and encouraged Rio Grande County Commissioners to pass strict oil and gas drilling regulations that would require Hughes to pay for a household water quality well testing baseline within a three mile radius of the proposed drill site. SLVEC has also met regularly with the water user community through the Rio Grande Roundtable. The recent First Liberty proposal finally galvanized the agricultural community and they met with Rio Grande County Commissioners requesting that a hydrologic and geologic study be conducted to determine baseline data on the Conejos volcanic formation to analyze the direction of water flow and provide support to determine at what depth the drill casing will need to be cemented to protect upper aquifers. Local geologists have speculated that we may need a casing depth of over 4,000 ft. to protect water quality. This argument convinced the Rio Grande County Commissioners to request that the COGCC not issue any Oil and Gas permits until this study is complete. The study is now completed.
San Francisco Creek, a tributary to the Rio Grande near Del Norte, Colorado, runs through a residential sub-division with a split estate situation of private surface rights, but mineral rights belonging to BLM (Bureau of Land Management). This area has already experienced minimal exploration for oil during the 1950's, 60's and early 80's. Small amounts of oil were found in a rock formation that is not contiguous with the rest of the Valley–an anomaly that is a remnant of a previous geological formation–but the wells were abandoned and the deposit deemed insufficient to warrant further exploration.
Dan Hughes Oil Company, a Texas exploration and investment firm, plans to do exploratory drilling within the sub-division not far from San Francisco Creek. They secured a minerals lease from BLM in 2006 and recently purchased a lot (#46) on which to site their drilling rig. Hughes recently filed an APD (Application for a permit to drill) for a 6,600 ft. exploratory well. They filed this APD with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).The COGCC has granted this drill permit.
http://www.riograndecounty.org/images/stories/docs/landuse/OG_2_2011_final.pdf (or refer below.)
Hughes Application to the COGCC