Loveland may extend oil drilling ban

The city of Loveland said Thursday that a two-month extension was “possible” on its nine-month moratorium on oil and natural-gas drilling.

The city cited new regulations that it expects the state will pass by early January as reasons to potentially extend its temporary drilling ban.

The extension, suggested by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., would push the expiration date of the moratorium from Feb. 14 to early April.

Anadarko wants to drill in the Centerra area of the city, though it has not applied for a permit.

“Having received this suggested schedule change from Anadarko, the moratorium extension will allow us more time for development of local regulations to meet the community’s needs and to ensure that our regulations will be consistent with the finalization of the new regulations now being considered by the state,” Loveland’s Development Services Director Greg George said.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission began hearings this week on increased distances between oil and gas wells and buildings as well as groundwater monitoring.

“We can’t say with certainty they’d be complete by January, but the hearings could easily extend that far,” commission spokesman Todd Hartman said in an email.

Proposed setback rules would create a minimum distance of 350 feet between buildings and oil and gas drilling statewide. A 750-foot setback from buildings that regularly house more than 50 people, such as schools and hospitals, also would be required.

The commission also is proposing a rule to require groundwater samples from two water wells, or other features such as springs or livestock wells, within one mile of an oil and gas well.

The commission is expected to agree on the issues, but exactly how the regulations will look remains unknown, Hartman said.

In May, Loveland City Council passed an emergency moratorium barring applications for oil and gas development as it sought to develop drilling regulations.

Councilors are scheduled to take up the extension of the moratorium at their Dec. 4 meeting.

An extension would lead the city to reschedule four public meetings as it considers passing an ordinance regulating drilling. Councilors finally could pass the law at their March 19 meeting.

Anadarko has no firm plans to begin drilling in the Loveland area in the next six months to a year, spokeswoman Robin Olsen said in an email.

“This was an opportune time to take a constructive approach to oil and natural-gas development in the area by continuing to work with the city, coordinate with the extensive state regulations already in place and communicate our commitment to operate prudently and responsibly,” she said.


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