Archuleta Planning Commission votes down BP request

Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018 8:15 AM
Some Allison residents who live near Archuleta County Road 988 are asking the county commission to turn down a request by BP to build a fifth well pad in a 640-acre section of land there.

Some neighbors in the vicinity of Archuleta County Road 988 aren't thrilled about a special exception that BP is requesting to construct a fifth wellpad on a 640-acre section of land near Allison.

Elaine Nobriga already can count 16 wellpads from her property.

On July 25, Nobriga, neighbor Nancy Cutright and several other residents attended the Archuleta County Planning Commission meeting on the BP request, asking the planning commissioners to turn down the request. In a 2-1 vote, planning commissioners recommended against granting BP the exception to drill the fifth wellpad.

That recommendation will now be considered by the Archuleta County Commission, which is holding a public hearing on the request at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Current county regulations allow four wellpads per 640-acre section, they said. BP has not sufficiently explained why another one is needed.

Another concern they have is the location of the request.

While they live in an area that is full of wellpads, for the most part, they are situated at the bottoms of hills. The site of the new wellpad is close to the road, another violation of the county's land-use code, they said.

"We're not against oil and gas, we know it's a vital resource," Cutright said. "We're asking the county to go by their own regulations. Four is enough."

There are other issues with the application, as well, including an illegal subdivision in the section of land. That was mentioned in the planning commission's June 27 meeting, so the request was tabled until the July meeting, then wasn't addressed and resolved last week, according to Cutright.

BP also failed notify the owners of the nearby Allison Lateral, a nearby ditch, of the proposed project, according to the two neighbors. The company also didn't submit a mitigation plan to avoid water contamination. BP also is required to perform an assessment on local wildlife, they said, and the one included with the application is from 2011 and covers the entire San Juan Basin.

Nobriga and Cutright said they asked members of the planning commission if they lived near a wellpad, or if they had visited the site to see the density of well pads in the area. None of the three planning commissioners had, they said. Of 25 neighbors who live within a mile of the proposed wellpad, all but two have signed a petition asking Archuleta County to deny the request. The two believe they have raised awareness of oil and gas regulations in Southwest Colorado and hope residents will attend the Tuesday meeting.

BP did not respond to a email from the Times or a call to its Denver office. The telephone number of BP's media affairs office in Houston has been disconnected.