Rio Grande County
Del Norte Area
San Francisco & Old Woman’s Creek Applications to Drill
September 15, 2013-
SLV Ecosystem has submitted our comments to the Bureau of Land Management concerning the draft Environmental Assessment for the drilling proposal on San Francisco Creek (permit application for hydrocarbon drilling exploration.)
Click the following links to view our comments General Comments (Part1)
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 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 involved in the public comment period for the permit application for a oil well along San Francisco Creek in the eastern foothills of the San Juan Mountains, 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 speculated 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 has been organizing area residents since 2010 and has 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 and subsequent drilling 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. COGCC ignored this request and granted the request by Hughes to drill. The study has since been completed and may be viewed through tthe link above.
We are awaiting the findings by the BLM after the recent public comment period on the BLM recommendations regarding the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Hughes application on San Francisco Creek. Please return to this site for timely information about this process.
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.
Local residents are in the process of organizing to research and monitor COGCC-Colorado oil and gas regulations (The state process) but there is also a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) federal BLM permitting process, which will involve public participation and comment. The BLM is expected to release the inital Evironmental Assessment by June 1, 2013, initiatiating the feveral comment process. There are also local Rio Grande County oil and gas regulations for citizens to become informed about.
http://www.riograndecounty.org/images/stories/docs/landuse/OG_2_2011_final.pdf (or refer below.)
SLVEC will continue to involve community participation in the Hughes application process. A water quality sampling plan for testing and monitoring in the area has been be initiated by COGCC which will includes a BTEX (Petroleum by-products) baseline which local residents are encouraged to participate in.
Contact Karen Spray, if you would like more information regarding the water quality testing process.
Karen L. Spray, PG
SW Environmental Protection Specialist
Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission
P.O. Box 2651
Durango, CO 81302
SLVEC's comments to COGCC and other support material are posted below:
- Environmental Assessment on Proposed Oil and Gas Drilling on the Baca National WiIdlife Refuge, pg. 54-65, April 2011504.85 KB
- Well Location Map778.94 KB
- Well Location by Lot Number928.56 KB
Hughes Application to the COGCC
- Topo Map1.01 MB
- Hughes Surface Use Plan37.04 KB
- Pad Construction141.54 KB
- Southwest Willow Flycatcher Map, ERO Resources Group, Denver, CO. 20071.1 MB
- Colorado Natural Heritage Program, Center for Native Ecosystem Elemental Occurance Map1.29 MB
- Cross Section of SLV (US Fish and Wildlife Service)266.61 KB
- Hughes Form 2 application69.26 KB
- Hughes Drilling Plan374.08 KB
- BLM Mineral Leasing Map224.35 KB
- Hughes APD Submittal to the COGCC75.88 KB