Guest Post by Fiona Lloyd
RSPN organizer and Silt Mesa resident
Ursa’s second community meeting of the year was held at the Fire House in Silt on Tuesday evening. As usual, Ursa generously supplied a variety of snacks from a local catering company. The ratio of Ursa employees to the public was probably around 1:3, which should have applied to the artichoke and spinach in the dip. The dip was served cold and only the veggie spring rolls prevented me from becoming violent in response. I’m not really sure how well the meeting was advertised, but the attendees were mainly from north of the river. Perhaps those south of the river have surrendered in the face of overwhelming forces?
Nobody was impolite enough to ask if Ursa believed in the existence of the Thompson Divide.
A PowerPoint presentation by Don Simpson informed us that Ursa has the capacity to drill 48 wells a year and this year they have/will have drilled 40. Their rig has been changed to a Capstar 321, which has a smaller footprint, and they are possibly going to add another rig in 2015. They continue to use sound walls and green completions.
Battlement Mesa and Castle Springs are bearing the brunt of operations. Ursa will be holding monthly community meetings in Battlement Mesa in the near term as there are two new pads coming on line and associated pipeline work through 2015.
North of the river, the Cactus Valley Federal Unit requires that Ursa drill a second well before October 2016. The current well is hooked up to existing infrastructure. The second location is undetermined, but Ursa has no plans for installing infrastructure and/or pipelines north of the river certainly through 2015. There is ongoing, federally mandated, reclamation work being performed on the other pads north of Silt (except on the Diemoz pad, which will remain bare as Wayne Pollard stores his hay on it).
On the staffing front, Ursa has added staff in both Rifle and Denver (there is an opening for an environmentalist in the Rifle office), and have appointed inspectors in several divisions. Along with their own staff are inspectors among the contractors and so far, Ursa has performed over 1300 self-inspections this year. Ursa also holds quarterly and bi-annual meetings for various contractors with attendees in the 80-100 number range to go over working practices and compliance plans. They have plans for air, water, spills, waste, and wildlife mandated by various regulatory bodies.
Ursa continues to support the CSU air study and has participated in the Parachute Hazard Disaster Planning Meeting, which covered “what should I do when…” scenarios. Any group, school, organization, government department, etc., can request an educational presentation from Ursa about any aspect of oil and gas development, and excitingly, Ursa also offers operational tours for anyone interested. I can’t wait.
On the lighter side, Ursa has sponsored an array of community events, including the Community Counts Golf Tournament. Speaking of Community Counts (an “independent” group set up and financed by the industry), Ursa has gained certification from them. Not sure for what, but well done! Other sponsored events include drinking (Parachute Octoberfest), eating (pig roast) and shooting (sporting dogs). Hunting didn’t appear on the list of sponsored events, possibly because sponsoring an activity on which they have a detrimental effect would be seen as hypocritical.
The next community meeting will be held in March. In the meantime, Silt now has its own go-to guy in the shape of Jeff Powers. Call or email him with any questions: