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Last updated 3:12AM ET
December 15, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
La Plata Gas Well Driller Under Scrutiny
(2007-08-24)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: State and local officials are cracking down on a gas producer they say isn't playing by the rules in Southwest La Plata County, raising environmental, permitting and safety concerns.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

VICTOR: A Denver based company, Star Acquisitions VIII, is being accused of violating county codes, drilling gas wells without permits, and more, in Southwest La Plata County.
Star acquired 60 existing gas wells in the Marvel,Red Mesa area one year ago when it acquired another gas firm.
County Attorney Jeff Robbins says they are sending notices of the alleged violations as well as Cease and Desist orders to Star.
ROBBINS: A COUPLE OF WELLS IT APPEARS HAVE BEEN ACTUALLY DRILLED AND COMPLETED WITHOUT OBTAINING A COUNTY LAND USE PERMIT. THAT WOULD BE NOT IN COMPLIANCE WITH OUR CODE. THERE ARE A COUPLE OF FACILITIES THAT HAVE COMPRESSORS ON LINE THAT EXCEED THE 200 BRAKE HORSE POWER LEVEL AND THAT WOULD BE IN VIOLATION FOR NOT HAVING OBTAINED A PERMIT FOR THAT AS WELL. AND THEN THERE ARE SEVERAL FACILITIES THAT HAVE WEEDS AND TRASH AND RUBBISH AND THEY HAVE WATER PITS THAT ARE NOT FENCED, ETC, AGAIN IN VIOLATION OF OUR CODE.
County staff members say they've been in contact with Star owner Tom Stover, about obtaining the proper permits and cleaning up his well sites.
The permit applications he's filed, however, were incomplete.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is also dealing with shortcomings in Stars operations, according to COGCC Director Brian Macke.
MACKE: ISSUES THAT WE'RE ADDRESSING AREN'T THERE AREN'T RELATED TO IMMEDIATE THREATS OF HEALTH, SAFETY AND PUBLIC WELFARE. THERE HAD BEEN ONE COMPLAINT REGARDING NOT HAVING A FENCE AROUND A PRODUCED WATER PIT THAT WE ISSUED A NOTICE OF ALLEGED VIOLATION TO THE OPERATOR FOR AND THEY HAVE IN SINCE COME INTO COMPLIANCE WITH THAT ISSUE. WE'RE WORKING WITH THE OPERATOR TO ADDRESS COMPLIANCE ISSUES THAT THEY MIGHT HAVE IN THAT AREA. A LOT OF THE ISSUES WERE HISTORICAL PROBLEMS THAT EXISTED ON THOSE LEASES THAT STAR ACQUISITIONS VIII ACQUIRED FROM THE PREVIOUS OPERATOR.
Robbins says the company will have 15 days to contact the county and come up with an action plan to fix the problems.
ROBBINS: THERE ARE ADDITIONAL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO THE COUNTY, THE COUNTY COULD SEEK AN ORDER FROM THE COURT TO ENJOIN THEM FROM CONTINUED OPERATION UNTIL THEY GET INTO COMPLIANCE WITH THE COURT AND THERE ARE ALSO CIVIL PENALTIES THAT ARE AVAILABLE TO THE COUNTY AS AN OPTION.
Those civil penalties include fines of up to 100-dollars per day for each offense of county code with greater fines possible from the state.
The case is described as unusual by county staff, the first time since the late 90's that a gas producer has fallen out of graces with local and state regulators over their well drilling efforts.
County staff is also developing plans to step up inspections for all producers operating in the Southwest part of the county, where gas development has been slower than elsewhere.
Attempts to reach Stover about the accusations were not successful.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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