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(This article is courtesy of bouldercounty.gov.)
10/2/2022 UPDATE: The Boulder County Government Commissioners unanimously voted to reject Extraction’s offer. The legal battle is on.
Boulder County to examine proposal against threat of forced pooling
Boulder County, Colo. – Boulder County received a letter from Extraction Oil & Gas, Inc., on July 5, 2022, offering to lease county-owned mineral rights in connection with Extraction’s “Blue Paintbrush” well pad planned in Weld County.
The Blue Paintbrush pad is located approximately 1,000 feet east of the Boulder County line on land over which Boulder County owns a conservation easement. Extraction has permits from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) to drill up to 32 wells on the pad. The Blue Paintbrush wells are designed to drill horizontally from the Weld County site to produce oil and gas under four square miles of Boulder County, where Boulder County is the majority mineral owner. Boulder County filed a lawsuit in 2018 arguing that its conservation easement and several existing leases do not allow for the approved drilling, but that suit was unsuccessful.
According to Extraction’s offer letter, if the county does not agree to lease 552 acres of mineral rights or to accept a working interest in the Blue Paintbrush wells, Extraction will seek a statutory (or “forced”) pooling order from the COGCC. Extraction filed an application with the COGCC to force pool the minerals on July 7, which is currently in a regulatory waiting period.
If the COGCC approves the application, it would require Boulder County to allow its mineral interests to be accessed by Extraction and would require the county to share in the cost of drilling and producing the oil and gas. Boulder County believes it has strong arguments against forced pooling, but the outcome of a COGCC proceeding is not certain.
Boulder County has a long-time policy of not voluntarily leasing its mineral rights for development. However, considering the threat of forced pooling and the significant amounts of land, minerals, and money at stake in this situation, the county will complete a full public process before rendering a decision on the offer.
At a public hearing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25, the Parks & Open Space Advisory Committee (POSAC) will review Extraction’s lease offer. POSAC’s proceeding is the first step in the process by which the county makes determinations whether to dispose of open space property by selling it or, in this case, leasing it for development. After hearing a presentation from county staff and considering all public comments, POSAC will make a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), which will take up the question at a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 4 p.m.
To provide comments to POSAC before its Thursday, Aug. 25, meeting, sign up to speak at the meeting, or to view the POSAC meeting remotely, go to boco.org/posac. Spanish interpretation will be provided for registered participants. Habrá interpretación en español disponible para los participantes registrados.
Depending on the number of people signed up to speak, speaking time may be limited to three minutes. Pooling of speaker time will be permitted up to a total of ten minutes. All speakers wishing to pool their time must be signed up for and present at the meeting. Speakers are requested not to repeat statements made by previous speakers other than to express points of agreement or disagreement.
After POSAC makes a recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), the BOCC will accept public comments on this issue at firstname.lastname@example.org. The public will also be able to speak at the 4-7 p.m. Nov. 1 public hearing in front of the BOCC. Sign up to receive the BOCC Advance Agenda, which includes links to register to attend and/or speak at public hearings.