Should the city of Broomfield protest Extraction Oil and Gas’ Coyote Pad spacing application before the 7/10 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) deadline? That was the question for which the CCOB staff requested direction from Council at the 6/27 CCOB meeting. The majority of Council members said no, but there were dissenting opinions and interesting indications of future possible actions heard during the discussion.
Two-thirds of the proposed spacing application for the Coyote South Pad would be in Broomfield with the northern third in unincorporated Weld County. (See wide crosshatched area on the map, south of County Road 4. Broomfield City and County limits are indicated by the darker, irregularly-shaped outline.) The actual well pad would be in the Coyote North spacing unit in unincorporated Weld County, not too far from Erie. The Coyote West spacing unit from which minerals would be extracted is also shown on the map.
CCOB Attorney Tuthill stated that one result of a protest would be to delay the COGCC 7/24 hearing. CCOB Manager Charles Ozaki pointed out that CCOB had identified five reasons to protest the original Coyote Pad spacing application submitted by Extraction:
- The spacing application was a violation of the COGCC rule set by Colorado Conservation Act 34-60-116 section 3 that “The order establishing drilling units shall permit only one well to be drilled and produced from the common source of supply on a drilling unit…”
- The spacing application didn’t specify that already existing spacing units would be vacated.
- There was no well location specified in the application.
- There was language in the application that public health and safety would not be impacted.
- There was a potential conflict if Extraction tried to force pool government controlled property of Broomfield.
CCOB Manager Ozaki presented Council with an amended spacing application from Extraction in which he stated #2, 3, and 4 were addressed. He stated that if Extraction didn’t file the amended spacing application as promised, then CCOB would definitely file a protest. His question directed to Council was if they wanted the City to file a protest even if the amended application was filed.
CCOB Manager Ozaki pointed out that Extraction had reduced the number of wells sited in Broomfield by moving 40 wells to the Coyote Pad, resulting in fewer wells at the Sheridan, United and Huron Pads but not the Lowell Pad. CCOB Manager Ozaki reported on discussions he held with Erie administrators to listen to any concerns that Erie might have about the Coyote Pad. Erie officials said that there would be a 1200-foot setback to any Erie residence. Erie also requested Broomfield support in asking Weld County to have Extraction incorporate Best Management Practices (BMPs) in the Coyote Pad site. However, Erie didn’t plan to file a protest before the COGCC hearing. CCOB Manager Ozaki stated that Weld County had not expressed any concerns about the Coyote Pad either.
In public comments, Anthem Highlands resident Cristen Logan pointed out that these relocated wells were “just across the street” and that the Broomfield area would still be closely surrounded by wells. She stated that any COGCC approval of an oil and gas spacing application in Broomfield was premature until the Update Committee was finished and that Council should “start listening to us.” Council Member Kreeger was the only Council Member to vocally support a protest. His reasons were that the Update Committee recommendations could impact setbacks, pipeline siting and alternative site analysis and that their work should not be “undermined” by COGCC application approval.
Other Council Members didn’t feel any need to protest the Coyote Pad spacing application. Council Member Shelton pointed out that Extraction was following citizen wishes to move some of the wells further from houses than they would be on the 4 Broomfield pads. The closest Broomfield homes to the Coyote Pad would be a half mile to the south. The yellow line on the detail map shows a ring of 1000 feet from the Coyote Pad. Council Member Taylor also saw this Coyote Pad spacing application as a “response to us.” Mayor Ahrens echoed that “it was partially the result of getting an outcome for the city.”
Council Member Shelton also stated that the Coyote Pad accomplished a goal of some residents that Extraction start its mega-well experiment by drilling in the east. That assumes that Extraction will actually start work towards drilling as soon as the Coyote Pad is permitted, probably true but not guaranteed.
Council Member Jezerski said he saw little reason to protest the Coyote application if Erie and Weld County were not interested in protesting. Council Member Beacom didn’t feel that there should be a protest because “Extraction Oil and Gas had bent over backwards to work with Broomfield.” Council Member Derda asked for an estimate on legal expenses of a protest, with CCOB Attorney Tuthill replying about $50,000- $100,000 with 18 months of court proceedings.
Discussions focused on #5 in the list of possible protest reasons regarding a violation of Broomfield’s government owned property ordinance if CCOB were to be force pooled. Mayor Ahrens asked if the city owned any mineral rights in the Coyote spacing unit which would be subject to forced pooling. CCOB Special Counsel Tami Yellico said it was currently unknown but that costs associated with searching title rights have been determined by CCOB if it needs to be done. CCOB Manager Ozaki said that Broomfield would discover the answer when COGCC rules would require Extraction to send out notification. When further pressed by Mayor Ahrens, CCOB Manager Ozaki added that the oil company might not yet even know who owns the mineral rights they need. Council Members Shelton and Jezerski expressed interest in considering a protest related to this matter at a later date.
Council Member Kreeger asked Special Counsel Phil Barber for a clarification on #1 in the list of five reasons to protest. To repeat,
- The spacing application is a violation of the COGCC rule set by Colorado Conservation Act 34-60-116 section 3 that “The order establishing drilling units shall permit only one well to be drilled and produced from the common source of supply on a drilling unit…”
CCOB Attorney Tuthill pointed out that it was obviously the “custom” of the COGCC to ignore this rule in permitting multiple well pads. Both CCOB Attorney Tuthill and Special Counsel Barber stated with a tone of bewilderment that no one has ever taken the COGCC to court for violating this rule. Special Counsel Barber stated that Longmont challenged this rule in protesting a COGCC application but then a settlement was reached before the COGCC hearing. When Council Member Tessier asked why Longmont had settled, Special Counsel Barber stated that he could not divulge that because he had represented Longmont as an attorney. CCOB Attorney Tuthill pointed out that CCOB owns mineral rights in Wildgrass and could consider raising challenges related to #1 at the time of that Lowell spacing application.
Currently, Extraction is planning to submit the spacing applications for the four Broomfield pads by the end of August for the October 30 and 31 COGCC hearings. Protests would be due to the COGCC by October 16.
The meeting then continued with an update on the Crestone Peak Resources spacing application. If you have questions or comments, please email your City Council Members or CCOB staff who are listed here. You can hear the details in the 6/27 Council Meeting recording. See link below at the following times:
1:25:09 Begin discussion of Coyote Pad protest consideration
1:49 Public Comments – Cristen Logan
1:50 Council Member Shelton comments
1:58 Council Member Kreeger comments
2:03 Council Member Beacom comments
2:07 Council Member Erickson comments
2:11 Council Member Jezerski comments
2:18 Council Member Derda comments
2:24 Council Member Stokes comments
2:29 Council Member Taylor comments
2:31 Council Member Tessier comments
2:33 Mayor Ahrens comments
2:44 Discussion of 5 ways to protest
3:02:00 End Coyote Pad discussion