Updated May 10, 2013
BLM approves lease suspensions in Thompson Divide
Suspension Decision Letter, SG Interests
Suspension Decision Letter, Ursa Resources
NEPA Info: Categorical Exclusions: SG Interests request, Ursa request
SG Interest Proposals:
BLM and the U.S. Forest Service have received six applications for permit to drill (APDs) from SG Interests in the Thompson Divide Area. Two of the six APDs are currently considered complete.
Current Map of Proposed Locations
List of APDs received
Once the agencies have received complete APDs, the Forest Service will begin an Environmental Assessment, which will include a well-advertised opportunity for public involvement.
BLM received a request from SG Interests to suspend its leases in Thompson Divide on Feb. 13, 2013. To view that request, click here. On March 28, 2013, BLM received an another suspension request from SG Interests, this time for two leases in Thompson Divide and within the proposed Lake Ridge Unit. SG Interests acquired these two leases from Encana on March 1, 2013. To view the second suspension request, click here.
Ursa Piceance Proposals:
Antero Resources began working on the Lava Boulder Creek Exploratory Development Program for a lease within the Thompson Divide in 2009 in Mesa and Pitkin counties. The Forest Service is preparing an environmental assessment of this proposal. The EA was released for public comment Sept. 27-Oct. 29, 2012. The Forest Service continues to work on this EA and at this time does not have an estimate for when it will complete the final decision. The proposal is for four wells on a single well pad. BLM has received one application for permit to drill and is awaiting completion of the Forest Service EA. Antero Resources recently sold these leases to Ursa Piceance LLC.
Map of the proposed Boulder Lava Ridge well pad location.
List of APDs received
In August 2012 BLM recevied a proposal from Antero to unitize its seven leases in this area, known as the "Wolf Springs Unitization Proposal." The unitization proposal would include leases in Garfield, Mesa and Pitkin counties. BLM is reviewing this request.
BLM received a request from Ursa Piceance LLC to suspend its leases in the Thompson Divide on Feb. 19, 2013. To view that request, click here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which agency makes the decision about whether or not to approve drilling on Forest Service lands?
BLM will only approve APDs on Forest Service lands if the Forest Service has an approved NEPA document such as an Environmental Assessment.
How can I comment on these proposed wells and proposed access?
The Forest Service will write an Environmental Assessment of the SG Interest proposed wells once complete APDs are received. This will include at least one formal, well-advertised opportunity for public comments. The Forest Service process could take up to two years.
In the State of Colorado, a state-issued permit is also required for each well. This is a spearate approval process from the federal process and may involve public comment opportunities separate from the federal one. For more information on the state process, visit the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website.
The public comment period for the Lava Boulder Creek EA was held in Oct. 2012.
What is the proposed access route to these wells?
The Forest Service Environmental Assessment will address proposed access routes and possible alternatives and will be available for public comment. SG Interests proposes accessing these wells via Glenwood Springs and the Four Mile Road, but that proposal will be analyzed in detail in the Forest Service Environmental Assessment.
Access to the Lava Boulder Creek pad is proposed from East Divide Creek, which is to the east of Thompson Divide.
When was this area leased?
The most recent decisions that made the White River National Forest lands in the Thompson Divide available for leasing are in the White River National Forest’s 1993 Final Oil and Gas Leasing EIS Record of Decision, which were carried forward in the 2002 White River National Forest Plan Record of Decision.
Those documents made the decision that the Forest Service lands in the Thompson Divide area were appropriate for oil and gas leasing, and under what restrictions. Since these are National Forest Service lands, the U.S. Forest Service made the decision about whether or not these lands would be available for oil and gas leasing.
The leases held by SG Interests and Ursa were issued in 2003 through a BLM quarterly oil and gas lease sale. BLM is the agency that conducts federal on-shore oil and gas lease sales. Parcels in oil and gas lease sales have been nominated by industry or others to be offered in a lease sale. Nominated Forest Service parcels are offered after being nominated only after BLM gets concurrence from the Forest Service.
What is the status of the Lake Ridge unit proposal for these leases?
Decisions about whether or not to place leases in a unit is a BLM decision, even for leases on U.S. Forest Service lands. BLM is still reviewing the Lake Ridge Unit proposal from SG Interests and the Wolf Springs Unitization proposal from Ursa.
In May 2011 SG Interests submitted a proposal for the Lake Ridge Unit, which would encompass 18 leases they hold, totaling 21,167 acres within the Thompson Divide. Unitization is one method to manage a group of leases efficiently and reduce impacts.
In August 2012 BLM recevied a proposal from Antero to unitize its seven leases in this area, known as the "Wolf Springs Unitization Proposal." The unitization proposal would include leases in Garfield, Mesa and Pitkin counties.
When were the leases scheduled to expire?
For the 18 leases within the Lake Ridge proposal, all held by SG Interests, 14 would have expired on May 31, 2013; two July 31, 2013; another Aug. 31, 2013; and another Sept. 30, 2013.
Five leases within the Wolf Springs proposal would have expired May 31, 2013; the other two Aug. 31, 2013.
All the leases have been suspended until April 1, 2014.
History of Drilling in Thompson Divide
Map of Wells Drilled in Thompson Divide since 1947
APD Flowchart (Note: SMA means Surface Management Agency, the Forest Service in this case)
BLM Regulations regarding suspension of leases
Map of Proposed Lease Suspensions in Thompson Divide