Agreement Balancing O&G Extraction and Conservation Reached in Colorado

A landmark settlement agreement that seeks to provide a balance between oil and gas extraction and conservation on the Roan Plateau near Rifle, Colorado has been reached, according to Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and U.S. Senator for Colorado Michael Bennet in a release Friday. The settlement came following a “long struggle,” Chris Arend, Strategic Communications director of Conservation Colorado, told Rigzone.

The agreement on oil and gas development on the Roan Plateau, which was a former oil shale preserve, was reached with oil and gas leaseholders and conservation groups, and results in the cancellation of 17 leases of the 19 that were issued on the top of the plateau in 2008, the release said. The agreement also provides for the return of $47.6 million in bonus bids and yearly rental payments to the Bill Barrett Corporation.

The settlement leaves two of the leases on top of the plateau in place, as well as another 12 leases located near the base. The agreement provides environmental protection for wildlife and habitats on the plateau, while allowing for exploration and production around the base of the plateau.

Arend said that the top of the plateau was the more sensitive area.

“We were more worried about the top of the Roan anyway. We realize there’s still going to be some oil and gas production, but we were seeking as much protection for the environment, and particularly air quality, as possible,” Arend said.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) of Colorado hosted a lease sale in 2008 that included parcels located on the Roan Plateau based on a Record of Decision, the release said. The U.S. District Court challenged the sale, and the BLM agreed to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Roan Plateau. BLM agreed in the new settlement agreement to keep closed to new exploration the lands covered by the canceled leases, while allowing for exploration and production the lands covered by the retained leases.

“This is great news for the State of Colorado and for the local community who has worked hard to strike a balance between protecting open space and energy development,” Jewell said. “The Roan Plateau is an extraordinary place, and this settlement is a model for what can be accomplished when we all come to the table and work to find solutions.”


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