The Boulder County commissioners will soon consider a lease offer for county-owned mineral rights near Longmont, or risk forced pooling.
In July, the county received a letter from Extraction Oil and Gas offering to lease the county’s mineral rights in connection with Extraction’s Blue Paintbrush well pad in Weld County. On Tuesday, the commissioners will decide whether to accept the offer or risk a statutory pooling order from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
The pad is located approximately 1,000 feet east of the Boulder County line on land that Boulder County has a conservation easement on. Extraction has permits from the state and Weld County to drill up to 32 wells on the pad, which are designed to drill horizontally to produce oil and gas under four square miles of Boulder County.
Extraction has told the county that if they do not agree to lease 552 acres of mineral rights or accept a working interest in the Blue Paintbrush wells, Extraction will seek a forced pooling order. A hearing with the state to force the county to pool minerals is currently set for Jan. 25 if the lease offer is declined.
Boulder County filed a lawsuit in 2019 arguing that its conservation easement and existing leases do not allow for the drilling, but that suit was unsuccessful.
Boulder County has a long-time practice of not voluntarily leasing mineral rights for development, but the threat of forced pool and the significant amounts of money at stake led the county to want to complete a full public process before rendering a decision.
The county’s Park and Open Space Advisory Committee considered the lease offer at a public hearing on Aug. 25, unanimously recommending the commissioners decline the lease. At that meeting, several community members spoke up against the proposal and expressed concerns about the health and environmental effects of fracking.
Tuesday’s hearing will begin at 3 p.m. and attendees can join through Zoom, by phone or in person with speakers’ time limited to two minutes. Written comments can also be submitted until noon Monday.