Companies Looking To Drill For Natural Gas In Mesa County

Two oil and gas companies are hoping to drill 500 natural gas wells near Grand Junction and Whitewater, but there's disagreement over how realistic the project is. Maverick Oil and Gas Incorporated, based in London, England, is touting the “Whitewater Project” as a substantial development. Maverick is a 30% partner in the project with South Oil, the company in charge of the proposed development.

Maverick Oil and Gas says the proposed development is located on more than 41,000 on the western edge of the Piecance Basin, near Grand Junction. The company is optimistic the 500 wells could yield a large amount of natural gas, but locals involved in oil and gas development aren't so sure.

Maverick Oil and Gas, the minority partner in this venture, has put out a news release detailing its plans, but the permitting supervisor with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hasn't heard anything about it. The Bureau of Land Management hasn't seen any formal proposal on the project either, but a spokesman says several companies have expressed interest in gas drilling in the area.

According to Maverick Oil and Gas, 40 wells have been drilled and tested in the Whitewater area over the past 20 years, and most have been reclaimed, but the company says none of the wells was put into production because there was no pipeline to get the gas to market. Now, the company says a new pipeline makes production a real possibility, however, former Mesa County Commissioner Kathy Hall, who now consults for the oil and gas industry, says it's too early to speculate on whether this project will happen.

She says the previous wells in that area have not proven there's a significant gas resource. A spokesman with the Federal Bureau of Land Management agrees, saying wells in the area have been marginally productive at best.

Maverick Oil and Gas estimates that with 500 or more wells working the company could extract 68 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

If Maverick does get its applications in to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, it could be a matter of just 30 days before approval. A permitting supervisor with the oil and gas commission says the Whitewater area is not a particularly tough area in which to get approval.

Between filing a development plan, environmental analysis, and applications for permits to drill, it could take six months or even years for the ball to really get rolling on this project.

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