Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Hilcorp to begin fracking at county site soon

NED B. HUNTER Updated: December 6, 2012 at 12:00 am

Hilcorp Energy Co. expects to complete test drilling at one of its El Paso County wells within the next couple of days, and plans to begin fracking Dec. 20.

The company has permits to drill two wells in unincorporated parts of the county called Springs and Myers. It began drilling at the Myers site in late November. It’s drilled a total of 6,300 vertical feet and nearly 3,000 feet horizontally at the test site, said Donald Spicer, division landman for the company.

Spicer was among about 15 people from the oil and gas industry, local government and residents who attended the county’s Licensed Government Designee’s bimonthly meeting held by Diana May, senior assistant county attorney. Representatives from Ultra Resources, which also has wells in the county, did not attend. Ultra also owns more than 18,000 acres in the Banning Lewis area of Colorado Springs, and the state has issued it two drilling permits. Ultra, the first oil and gas company to begin drilling in the county, has three wells east of the city.

“There have been no problems with the (Myers) drilling,” May said, “or we would have known about it.”

The Myers well is off Peyton Highway to the north of Colorado State Highway 94. Once the initial drilling is complete, Houston-based Hilcorp will begin fracking for any petroleum products that might exist. The company hopes to begin fracking on Dec. 20, depending on when equipment arrives, Spicer said.

Hydraulic fracturing, of fracking, is a controversial technique that forces water, sand and chemicals into a well under high pressure to unlock oil and gas deposits trapped in tight rock formations.

Hilcorp has tested two water wells outside the required half-mile drilling radius, after residents asked the company to perform the tests, Spicer said. The wells tested were about a mile from the drill site.

“We didn’t mind,” he said, “It is in everybody’s best interest to know what we are dealing with.”

In November, County Commissioners passed regulations that require drillers to test water quality within one-half mile of a drilling platform, first at the baseline before drilling begins, then again one year later.

May said the state was considering water testing requirements that would be stricter than the county’s. The state has required Ultra to test water sites within one mile of both its Banning Lewis platforms before drilling begins, then again one, three and six years later. But those requirements are specific only to those two permits.

A third oil and gas company will do a seismic study over 200,000 acres in El Paso, Lincoln and Elbert counties as soon as permits are issued.

Robert Davis, vice president for land at NexGen Oil & Gas said at Wednesday’s meeting that his company will drill only one exploratory well after the seismic study is complete. It will be a vertical drill and will be used mostly to collect data, he said. He said the well should be in place sometime in the summer. It was not known Wednesday in which county the well would be drilled. Most of the seismic study will be in Elbert County, he said. 

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