The Regulation Explorer team receives its award at the Go Code Colorado finals last year from Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Pictured, from left, are Sam Richard, Wojciech Magda, Danielle Leighton, Ron Stites, Williams, Emily Hueni, Kelly Wilson and Janel Guerrero. Courtesy Go Code Colorado

Regulation Explorer gets the frack facts

FORT COLLINS — The idea for Regulation Explorer had been percolating in Emily Hueni’s mind ever since the geographic information system specialist entered the oil and gas industry two years ago.

For all of the debate in Colorado surrounding hydraulic fracturing and setback distances for drilling sites from schools, businesses and neighborhoods, there was no one-stop source that mapped out the regulations in an easily visualized format. For oil and gas producers, that has meant sometimes spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars going through the process of finding suitable sites for new wells, particularly as the oil fields collide with the Front Range’s population boom.

“These regulations are so important but nobody geographically understands the layout,” said Hueni, a GIS analyst for Bayswater Exploration and Production in Denver, in a recent interview.

The aim of Regulation Explorer is to change that — not only to create efficiency and cut costs for oil companies but also to help provide transparency and understanding of the regulations for affected municipalities and their citizens.

Regulation Explorer, a team with Denver and Fort Collins ties, was one of three teams to last month win $25,000 awards as part of the Go Code Colorado app challenge put on by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The competition charges entrepreneurs to create applications that use online public information and records to help Colorado companies better do business.

While there are several regulations related to the siting of oil and gas wells, the main focus of Regulation Explorer is on setbacks. The app maps out everything from schools to prisons to nursing homes to roads and applies the various setback distances required in each instance to create a layout illustrating areas where oil and gas drilling operations are allowed. Oil companies can then overlay their own maps of their mineral rights with the Regulation Explorer output to see from where they can best access those minerals.

The app helps oil companies understand what mitigation measures they might have to take for each option being considered for a drilling site. Locations can be compared based on the regulations and also on what concerns are important to individual communities.

“That’s what our goal was, to take all of that information and components and put them on a map,” Hueni said. “Our application is really bringing all of that information together and saying, ‘If you want to work in this area, you need to be aware of all of these issues that are important to the community.’ ”

Having such data in hand can help oil and gas companies better explain their case to neighboring municipalities for choosing the drilling sites that they do. But municipalities and regulators also can use the information so they can have their own comprehensive understanding of the regulations “so when they meet with energy companies, they can come armed with knowledge of what needs to be happening,” Hueni said.

Hueni and multiple other energy-industry veterans from Denver started the Regulation Explorer team that entered Go Code Colorado earlier this year. The group initially attended the April Fort Collins challenge weekend — one of five around the state that qualified two finalists apiece for the May main event — with the notion that it would be easier to advance as a finalist there than it would be from the Denver challenge weekend where there were likely to be more entrants. But the team’s trek to Fort Collins quickly became much more valuable.

The Fort Collins challenge weekend was where Hueni and crew landed Wojciech Magda and Sam Richard, the coders who would build the app. Magda, Hueni said, is the team’s “ringer” who turns out to have a bit of a Go Code Colorado golden touch. The former computer engineer for Intel and HP has been on one of the three winning teams in each of the three years the state has sponsored the competition — last year helping found Pikr Knows and two years ago BeagleScore.com.

“I’ve put in a lot of work every year to the final product,” Magda said of his magic. “I think a lot of people forget that it’s important to have a working product by the end of the competition” instead of just a good idea.

Despite not being in the oil and gas industry himself, Magda said he could see the viability of Regulation Explorer from a business standpoint right away and was happy to jump on board.

The Regulation Explorer team is well on its way to a working product. Hueni said that, while the team’s seven members are keeping their day jobs for now, they’re navigating the limited liability company formation process and are hopeful the desktop application — available via subscription — can become a “real business.” The team already has oil and gas companies lined up for beta testing, which will begin in the next few weeks.

Should the team get the business rolling, Hueni said, it could be scalable not only to other states with oil and gas production but also to other applications such as building codes.

“There is a huge potential for us to pivot into other industries that have regulations and put those on a map,” Hueni said.

Joshua Lindenstein can be reached at 303-630-1943, 970-416-7343 or jlindenstein@bizwestmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joshlindenstein

FORT COLLINS — The idea for Regulation Explorer had been percolating in Emily Hueni’s mind ever since the geographic information system specialist entered the oil and gas industry two years ago.

For all of the debate in Colorado surrounding hydraulic fracturing and setback distances for drilling sites from schools, businesses and neighborhoods, there was no one-stop source that mapped out the regulations in an easily visualized format. For oil and gas producers, that has meant sometimes spending hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars going through the process of finding suitable sites for new wells, particularly as the oil fields collide with the Front Range’s population boom.

“These regulations are so important but nobody geographically understands the layout,” said Hueni, a GIS analyst for Bayswater Exploration and Production in Denver, in a recent interview.

The aim of Regulation Explorer is to change that — not only to create efficiency and cut costs for oil companies but also to help provide transparency and understanding of the regulations for affected municipalities and their citizens.

Regulation Explorer, a team with Denver and Fort Collins ties, was one of three teams to last month win $25,000 awards as part of the Go Code Colorado app challenge put on by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office. The competition charges entrepreneurs to create applications that use online public information and records to help Colorado companies better do business.

While there are several regulations related to the siting of oil…