In search of the “net positive”


Drill rig as seen from Bob Arrington’s back porch in Battlement Mesa in 2013. Bob is an EAB board member, and member of Battlement Mesa Concerned Citizens and Western Colorado Congress, as well as a frequent contributor to this blog.

The Ursa meeting in Battlement Mesa last Monday (7/13) was well attended. I was unable to be there. However the Post Independent has taken a sudden interest in the future drilling plans in the Battlement Mesa PUD, therefore the meeting was covered by a local reporter. From reading the article and talking to people who attended, it was sort of an introductory or preliminary meeting to get a feel for public concerns. In addition to Ursa environmental manager Rob Bleil, Garco director of community development Fred Jarman, Kent Custer from the CDPHE and Dave Kubezco, a COGCC staff member, were also present. The next meeting is scheduled for August 3, at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse in Battlement Mesa.

Ursa PUD plans not quite complete

Ursa Resources is making alterations to its application with Garfield County to drill inside the Battlement Mesa Planned Unit Development, which, assuming the changes meet standards, could put an expected date for initial public hearings sometime in September.

The oil and gas producer — which currently operates one of four active rigs in Garfield County, according to the website Community Counts — expects to submit the revised application in the next several weeks. Assuming that happens and the initial application is deemed complete, public hearing would likely happen in September or possibly early October, said Fred Jarman, director of Garfield County community development. The changes requested are nothing too substantial, as it is still early in the process, Jarman added.

Those changes are needed for Garfield County to deem the preliminary plans complete; a required step in the procedural process before the application becomes open for public review. The application covers phase one of Ursa’s plans within the Battlement Mesa PUD. Phase one includes two pads totaling 53 wells, as well as a pipeline.

Efforts to extricate the natural gas within the PUD date back several decades, and have been met with concern from some residents.

Some of those concerns were voiced Monday at a public meeting that drew around 70 people — a mix of residents, regulators and oil and gas industry representatives — at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse in Battlement Mesa. The meeting was one in a series Ursa has scheduled in the lead up to public hearings on the application.

The intention, Rob Bleil, regulatory and environmental manager for Ursa, told the crowd, is to answer as many questions as possible before public review begins.

Questions ranged from potential environmental impacts, to legal rights, to construction impacts and to the possible implications for property values.

In touching on broad aspects of the regulatory process, both with Garfield County and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Bleil reassured residents that Ursa would follow all the rules and regulations throughout the process.

Noting that, in response to a question, there are other parts of the state that have oil and gas development in close proximity to high density zones, Bleil said he thought the long-term implications would be a net positive, however, he conceded there would be initial obstruction during the construction phase.

That phrase “net positive” got my attention. Mainly because I don’t know what it means. So I googled it.

Urban Dictionary defines net positive as “a person who has evolved in his communications and data management to the point of considering obsolete the use of text messages, cd burning, and games not played online. A Net Positive person does not watch TV, neither goes to movie theaters; if not downloadable, he says, it is not worth the bother.”

Nope. I don’t think Mr. Bleil was talking about a person.

What I gleaned from all the other search entries is that “net positive” is a meaningless term that industry reps use when they’re trying to convince us that fracking up the environment and poisoning our air and water will have some sort of far-reaching-into-the-future-benefit.

What could that benefits possibly be? Perhaps we should ask Silt Mesa residents, or Mineota Estates homeowners, or Dry Hollow, or Divide Creek, or Hunter Mesa … Maybe they can enlighten us about the net positive outcome of oil & gas drilling in your backyard. Oh. Wait. I’ll bet Bob Arrington in Battlement Mesa can tell us the net positive impact of drilling in his backyard (see photo above).

“We’re not going to sugarcoat it and say there aren’t going to be short-term impacts,” he said, in likening the construction to building a highway and other infrastructure projects.

Except at the end of highway construction there’s a shiny new highway. Everyone benefits, not just mineral rights owners and Ursa. A well pad and pipelines are not infrastructure that benefits the residents. They only benefit the industry.

Citing a desire to provide a complete answer, not every question was addressed that evening, which noticeably agitated some in the crowd. Bleil assured them there would be several opportunities in the future to try and answer those questions.

When Ursa purchased the assets of Antero Resources in the Piceance Basin in 2012, there were 10 potential pads identified within the PUD. That number has since been reduced to five, John Doose, field land manager for Ursa, told the crowd.

To drill out the PUD, it would take approximately 197 wells. Of that number, 103 wells, including 48 already drilled, will be drilled from outside the PUD. “It shows we’ve really tried to drill outside the PUD,” Doose said …

According the article, the next Ursa meeting will discuss construction plans. It is scheduled for August 3, at the Grand Valley Fire Protection District firehouse.

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3 Comments on “In search of the “net positive””

  1. Bob Arrington Says:

    That particular drill site was a “model” operation, or at least supposed to to be. However, one evening as they were loading frack sand from trucks, they didn’t get the filter socks on the top of the storage tanks on one side. A plume went up for about 300 feet and “fell over” twice in shifting breezes. Once on Parachute and once on I-70. They then had a guy go down the tanks putting on the socks. None of the personnel had respirators nor did any body in the paths of the plumes. Later, when I searched COGCC records of reported incidents (which this one is reportable) over a year later, I could not find it. I haven’t ever searched again, so a “net positive” wasn’t available on this operation.

  2. B Says:

    My first thoughts of “net positive” were the net profits for the O&G companies bottom line. Or, and while it’s all speculative “we use [Net] positive, it’s hip and a catchy phrase for our next construction phase.”

    I’m curious why did they stop having the meetings at the Rec Center? And, what has happened to Kirby Wynn? Did he get fired after that last meeting in Rifle or GWS (video posted)? I haven’t seen an email from him since then.

    What is the town Mayor doing to attract non O&G business to our area? I heard he was going to kick up the dirt. We could have some kick-ass downhill mtn biking events off the book cliffs up Parachute Creek. Just sayin…didn’t we learn anything from the Utes about not using this rock for profit?

    There is so much more to make this a great place for generating revenue w/out O&G mucker suckers.

    So many questions…

    Thanks for the enlightening article


  1. In search of the “net positive” Blog from Peggy Tibbets | Coloradans Against Fracking - July 20, 2015

    […] Peggy regularly posts a blog, From the Styx.  Those near Battlement Mesa will be interested in this post.  Our friends on the Western Slope have been in this fight longer than many of us.  You can see all her blogs here. […]

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