Extraction Oil and Gas is pausing plans to drill Boulder County-owned minerals near Longmont.
Late Monday, just weeks before a hearing on the issue was scheduled, Extraction said it would withdraw its forced pooling application for the Blue Paintbrush project. The company could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Extraction proposed the Blue Paintbrush project in 2018, which included up to 32 new wells on a conservation easement owned by Boulder County in Weld County. The company obtained drilling permits from Weld and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to extract oil and gas from four square miles in unincorporated Boulder County, south of Longmont along County Line Road, despite Boulder County’s strong objections.
In early 2022, Extraction announced its intent to begin drilling. In October, the Boulder County commissioners rejected a lease offer from Extraction, so Extraction pursued a “forced pooling” application with the state. Forced pooling is a practice in Colorado that allows oil and gas operators to gain access to minerals despite the objections of mineral owners in certain circumstances.
“Extraction’s drilling proposal has been extremely concerning to Boulder County and our residents from the day it was filed,” Boulder County Commissioner Marta Loachamin said in a release. “Our staff has spent countless hours fighting this project on behalf of the citizens and environment of Boulder County, and especially Extraction’s attempt to force development of the county’s minerals, and this result is an important win for the county.”
While the county commissioners are celebrating the outcome, Senior Assistant County Attorney Kate Burke cautioned that many details are yet to be worked out.
“Extraction has stopped its effort to forcibly develop the county’s property for now, but it’s not clear what will become of the Blue Paintbrush project overall,” she said. “We will continue our efforts to protect county property and enforce our lease rights.”