And these are the Supposed to be the “Good” Operators

October 14, 2013 –

On October 1, Gunnison Energy’s Hotchkiss 1291 13-24D well underwent an inspection by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and it received “unsatisfactory” marks on numerous counts. The well is located on private land bordered on both sides by the Gunnison National Forest.

There was debris hanging from the wellhead, a proper sign was not installed, and the “drilling pit” was not up to standards. The fencing around the pit was “inadequate” and the pit didn’t have the required two-feet of “freeboard” – or the distance “between the top of the pit wall at its point of lowest elevation and the fluid level of the pit” (COGCC Rule 902(b)).

The local operators in the Upper North Fork Valley’s Muddy Country – Gunnison Energy and SG Interests – have frequently been touted as “responsible.”

Photos taken from the access road on Tuesday, Oct. 8th show the debris on the wellhead and that the pit was raised throughout with standing water near the upper edges of the pit.  There was also standing water on the well pad, including water around the wellhead. Here you can see the standing water on the drilling location.

And here you can see the pit with its inadequate fencing and the improper amount of room between the water level and top of the liner.

A few moments later, a couple of pickups were escorting this giant bulldozer along the narrow, gravel and dirt roads toward the well pad.

Gunnison Energy has been given deadlines of Oct. 15 to perform “corrective actions” to bring the pit into compliance and Nov. 5 to display proper signage and remove the debris from the wellhead.

Gunnison Energy is also currently changed with a rule violation by the COGCC for failing to comply with the hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure rule. The COGCC is holding a hearing on the violation on Oct. 28th-29th and can charge Gunnison with a base fine of $1,000 or more (COGCC Rule 523(c)). Gunnison Energy did eventually post the frack fluid disclosure forms on the industry-run web site, FracFocus.org.

There are currently a few dozen active wells in the upper North Fork Valley, mostly owned by Gunnison Energy and S.G. Interests. Hundreds more wells are proposed for the upper North Fork, in the Bull Mountain area, in the Somerset Unit, and in other locations on private, BLM, and National Forest land.

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