Oil and gas drilling permits on 2005 pace, with GarCo still leading pack

Oil and gas drilling permits in Colorado in 2009 are on pace to slightly top 2005 numbers, according an analysis by the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, but much of that activity came as part of a rush in March to file before new, environmentally stricter drilling regulations went into place April 1.

Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission staff, according to the story, expects to approve about 5,000 drilling permits this year –- way off the record 8,027 approved in 2008 and much closer to the 4,364 permits approved in 2005. But a March record 1,475 applications were filed this year to get in under the old regs.

Garfield County this year was neck and neck with Weld County on the Front Range, but recently pulled away with 37 percent (1,247) of the overall 3,360 permits approved statewide as of Aug. 6. Weld accounted for 27 percent (904); Mesa County was third at 9 percent (315); La Plata County was fourth at 7 percent (241); and Rio Blanco was fifth at 6 percent (212).

Garfield County may get an even bigger bump if plans by Bill Barrett Corp. to drill up to 136 new wells from 10 pads on federal leases southeast of Silt are approved for the fall. According to the Sentinel, the Bureau of Land Management Tuesday announced it’s seeking public comment on drilling plans for the 2,700-acre Gibson Gulch area.

Send comments by Sept. 18 to the Glenwood Springs Field Office of the BLM at 2300 River Frontage Road, Silt, CO, 81652, or e-mail gsfomail@co.blm.gov.

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