Regulators OK Broomfield forced pooling request

DENVER — The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission voted Tuesday to approve a measure that moves forward plans by Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas to drill in Broomfield despite protests from residents who live near the proposed drill site in the city’s Wildgrass subdivision.

Commissioners gave the go-ahead to a forced pooling request by Extraction, which allows the company to drill even if some of the mineral rights holders object.

The decision came after hours of public comments and testimony from Extraction oil and gas experts and attorneys representing the Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee, a group of concerned Broomfield residents who challenged Extraction’s pooling application.

Wildgrass representatives argued the legitimacy of Extraction’s right to engage in pooling, a method by which oil and gas operators can gain access to underground minerals owned by another party.

Part of the purpose of pooling, which was added to state statutes in the 1930s, is to ensure a small group of mineral rights owners who object to drilling cannot hold up an oil and gas project involving multiple rights holders.

“As distasteful as it, forced pooling is an absolute necessity,” Commissioner Kent Jolley said before voting in favor of Extraction’s pooling application.

Wildgrass residents also argued that they were not given a fair shake by Extraction when negotiating over the value of their mineral rights.

The neighbors, along with anti-fracking group Colorado Rising, sued Extraction earlier this year in an attempt to block the drilling. U.S. Federal District Court Judge Brooke Jackson postponed a decision last month on whether to implement an injunction that would pause or stop Extraction’s plans.

The purpose of postponing a ruling was to allow the parties to plead their cases to the COGCC. It is unclear how the commission’s decision Tuesday will impact the lawsuit.

The COGCC’s decision came on the same day legislators debated SB19-181, a hotly contested bill that a bill that would overhaul the way the state’s oil and gas industry is regulated. The bill would, in part, require that oil and gas operators gain consent from a majority of mineral rights holder before applying for a pooling application.

While the COGCC commissioners approved Extraction’s pooling application, they acknowledge the existing state statutes are outdated, particularly given advancements in horizontal drilling capabilities.

“This commission is governed by the statute and how the statute is written right now” even if statute may no longer be appropriate for modern oil and gas operations, Commissioner Ashley Ager said.

Commissioner Erin Overturf, the only commissioner to vote against Extraction’s application, said, “At the time (pooling statutes) were drafted, it couldn’t be foreseen how it would be used today.”

DENVER — The Colorado Oil and Gas Commission voted Tuesday to approve a measure that moves forward plans by Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas to drill in Broomfield despite protests from residents who live near the proposed drill site in the city’s Wildgrass subdivision.

Commissioners gave the go-ahead to a forced pooling request by Extraction, which allows the company to drill even if some of the mineral rights holders object.

The decision came after hours of public comments and testimony from Extraction oil and gas experts and attorneys representing the Wildgrass Oil and Gas Committee, a group of concerned Broomfield residents who challenged Extraction’s pooling application.

Wildgrass representatives argued the legitimacy of Extraction’s right to engage in pooling, a method by which oil and gas operators can gain access to underground minerals owned by another party.

Part of the purpose of pooling, which was added to state statutes in the 1930s, is to ensure a small group of mineral rights owners who object to drilling cannot hold up an oil and gas project involving multiple rights holders.

“As distasteful as it, forced pooling is an absolute necessity,” Commissioner Kent Jolley said before voting in favor of Extraction’s pooling application.

Wildgrass residents also argued that they were not given a fair shake by Extraction when negotiating over the value of their mineral rights.

The neighbors, along with anti-fracking group Colorado Rising, sued Extraction earlier this year in an attempt to block the drilling. U.S. Federal District Court Judge Brooke Jackson postponed a decision last month on whether…