A.C.R.E. - Aurora Citizens for Responsible Energy

A publc advocacy for sensible Oil and Gas development in Aurora, CO that we can live with.

ad·vo·ca·cy      ˈadvəkəsē/    noun     1. public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy

ACRE Recommends wording for draft Oil and Gas Committee Regulation

Mr. Mayor and Council Members/fellow citizens:

I suggest 4 changes to the draft Oil and Gas Committee ordinance appearing before Monday's study session:
  1. All members to be registered voters of Aurora.  Same as any board or committee in our city.  Industry and Landowners can select their "Rep" from our citizenry if they don't have a single citizen in their own organizations.
  2. One member "from Each company actively engaged in Oil or Gas Development or Production.  One company should not be able to "load up" all seats, to the detriment of fair representation from ALL Oil & Gas Operators.   
  3. One member from Each Ward appointed by their Councilmember.  That way, the Committee has ties back to their Electeds, and has their trust and confidence.
  4. Remove Language prohibiting Committee from "Pursuing" policies that might inhibit Oil and Gas.  I know we can't refute State supremacy, and the Committee can't Enact such policy, Only Council can.  Committee can only Recommend, and they might well Recommend to Council to adopt a position before the state.  It might happen IF a massive pipeline valve station were hit by a car, and a resultant gas cloud ignition sears say, Adonia.  The Committee may, in such example, Pursue a recommendation to Council to adopt a resolution before the state increasing setback, or require vehicle barriers to valve stations such as the new one at Powhatan and Jewell.

Earthquakes within the Dallas area have dramatically increased this year. The U.S. Geological Survey says fracking is a likely culprit.

AURORA REPLACES CITIZEN OIL & GAS MEMBER WITH INDUSTRY FRACKING LOBBYIST (See response by Brad PIerce explaining his vote in this site's Blog section)

Aurora's Planning Council committee has voted in a Lobbyist for the Fracking Industry.   The Aurora post was made open when a private citizen resigned from the city's Oil & Gas Committee.  The Council committee has appointed Polly Page, a known pro-Fracking industry lobbyist who boasts on her Facebook page "likes" for Noble Energy and Jefferson County Energy Action Project, another pro-Fracking activist/lobbying group (see her "Likes banner at left).  Her previous credits also claim support of a pro-coal industry group.  Polly Page's latest pro-industry front is as co-chair of "AREA - Arapahoe Responsible Energy Advocates" .   This group is an obvious attempt to steal presence from this ACRE site which serves to keep Aurora citizens aware of current energy front events, like this appointment of a known lobbyist.   Note the Aurora committee is already packed with industry lobbying groups such as the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), and industry members such as ConocoPhillips.

This appointment represents yet another low-blow to Aurora's openness, transparency and respect for citizen views, as stated in numerous citizen speaches before council and messages to its members.

Au Contraire, mon Fraire:  a citizen from Aurora's planned wellpad areas wrote to say that I had nothing good to say about Fracking, and that there are no wells under houses.  To the contrary.  I posit a balanced view about the industry as it is evolving in Aurora.  I specifically take issue with ConocoPhillips' poor operating record as witnessed by a wellpad fire, and numerous state citations for soil runoff/poor environmental controls.   That and their refusal to  be good neighbors and do something to ease the visual impacts of their wells in our evolving rural landscape.  And there are two new wells planned to run directly under houses just North of the Murphy Creek golf course as seen (below) - to the left in this post.

That said, here is my reply to my critic,

Well, again, there is something very good about fracking, and you and I see it everyday this month when we buy gas - just saw it at $1.99 at Costco.   Or...we pay our PSCo heating and lighting bill.   Those savings are largely due to the new development in the US that fracking has enabled.   And lately, we haven't had to send massive troops to the Middle East to defend that flaky energy source.  So there is some good from oil production and fracking.  And there are some not-so-good associated also.   If it's done cleanly, it can be safe.  And if the producer is a good neighbor and mitigates traffic and noise and visual impacts, we can live with that.  I don't think current Conoco is acting like a good neighbor;  they refuse to do even basic mitigation measures and are repeatedly being cited by State Regulators (COGCC) for poor soil runoff management, something they could very easily avoid, and are mandated by law to avoid. 

You're right, there's no wells under Murphy Creek - yet.  One well line goes immediately south of it along Jewell.   But two of the planned "Eastern Hills" wells will go under housing immediately to the North of the golf course.  Here's my plot of the lines from surface pads to Bottom of Hole.   And I attach one drilling plan so you can plot it yerself, if you have questions about my plots.

Hope your Holidays are restful and fulfilling!

State inspector cites Operator for poor soil runoff practices (again)

Following two environmental citations in September, ConocoPhillips was cited again on Nov 5 for poor erosion control measures (Inspection # 673707743).  The sediment control trap and culvert at their State Harvard Blanca well was not being maintained, and the road shoulder is at a very steep angle, leading to high speed runoff carrying soil off the site.  Similar "Action Required" inspection results were logged by the State in September at another well site.   The Nov 5 inspection also noted that the site's Frac tanks were not properly labeled with National Fire Protection Association signage.    This was corrected while the State inspector looked on after calling out the infraction.

ADONEA Wells Bottom of Hole identified

After researching State COGCC permit records, ACRE has identified the planned "Bottom of Hole" location for ConocoPhillips wells neatest Adonea neighborhood.  The wells start on the surface on Powhatan Rd, and runs nearly 2-miles to the West. They are about 8,000 feet deep at their endpoint near E-470.

Nov 7 Update:  Adonea area neighbors form FACEBOOK page to foster discussion

A new Facebook page;  East Aurora Community Development  has been created as a forum for neighborhood groups in East Aurora, such as Adonea, that are near to the new Oil wellpads.  Several members of this neighborhood rose to speak at the Nov. 3 Auroa Council meeting to protest the lack of public outreach to give information about the leasing of city land for mineral rights.  The leasing measures passed 8 to 3 Monday night.  Council Members Peterson, Markert, and Hunter-Holen spoke out  and voted against the mineral leases, and the lack of proper public notice about them.

Conoco says it follows all State and Local Regulations in response to ACRE's finding of a Wellpad fire (Article below)

Conoco responded to ACRE's article about the Conoco wellpad fire at its TEBO well by stating that they follow all state and local regulations in their design of these facilities.  But ACRE notes this was never an issue raised.  What is questioned is how ConocoPhillips could have experienced such a "Single-Point Failure" which should normally be identified and corrected during the design process  by such safety studies as HAZOP/HAZIID which are a standard practice in the industry.  ACRE believes either these Safety in Design checks were not made, or that they were incompetent.  In any event, it invites the question as to whether there are other Single Point Failure modes that exist in Conoco's well designs.

A.C.R.E. Uncovers ConocoPhillips cited for Fire at its Tebo 33 Well

Review of State Violation Notice records at the state COGCC database has revealed that ConocoPhillips was cited by the state (ref NOAV #400624186) for a fire at their Tebo 33-1H well near Quincy Ave and Watkins Rd.  In reply to the cititation, ConocoPhillips submitted the results of their investigation that showed a poorly chosen and designed critical level switch failed, causing crude oil to overflow their Vapor Recovery tower.  The overflow ended up in the site's Flare and causing a large fire.   Such single-point failure modes and dramatic results are not normal for the industry and calls in to question the extent of ConocoPhillips safety in design practices.   It is unknown if the design of this well underwent industry standard "Hazop" or "Hazid" studies to identify and prevent such single-point major failures.   

ACRE has previously challenged Conoco's design practices in which their engineering drawings do not carry the seal of a Professional Engineer, and their Civil drainage plans are prepared by a surveyor and not a licensed Civil Engineer.

October 24 Update:   Conoco Sites are Inspected by State for Rule 804 Aesthetic and Noise Complaint

Two Conoco wellpads in Arapahoe County and one in Aurora have been inspected by state COGCC personnel for "Rule 804" violations.  This state rule requires facilities to be painted a color to  blend in with surroundings to provide a degree of Visual Attenuation.  Contrary to the MOU's provisions among Conoco and the County, several large Thermal Combustors have been installed on Conoco pads.  During the State's inspections, Conoco told inspectors that the Combustors were only temporary until Flowback testing was completed.  Although the state Rule 804 doesn't differentiate between temporary and permanent equipment painting requirements, Conoco will be allowed to keep the non-compliant equipment in place "temporarily".  

All combustors were to be removed shortly per Conoco, except for the 4-well pad on Watkins Road, just South of Jewell.  Conoco indicated to the State indpector that these four units would be reomoved by years' end.  Note "Flowback Testing" occurs after drilling and fracking a well.  The fracked well is allowed to regurgitate much of the fracking fluids to the surface where they are trucked off to disposal sites.  Typically 20 to 40% of the millions of gallons of fracking fluids are regurgitated to the surface during Flowback Testing.  When the fracking fluid flow tapers after several weeks, the well is put into production of mainly crude oil and natural gas. 

ACRE looks forward to the timely removal of the non-compliant equipment as promised to the State inspector during thsi week's COGCC site inspection.

October 19 Update:   State Cites Conoco Twice in September Environmental Inspections

State inspections by the Department of Natural Resources during September have resulted in two instances where ConocoPhillips was cited for failure to maintain good Environmental practices regarding runoff from their Wellpads and for poor environmental housekeeping, as required under the COGCC regulations.  The inspections resulted in corrective "Action Required" status at the Conoco Wellpads, and followup inspections are planned by the State.

The Citations are for poor control of surface runoff, poor weed control, and lack of proper signage,  The inspections occurred at Conoco's Sky Ranch and Bomhoff well padsj during September. 

October 7 Update:  City Planning Department issues proposed changes to Oil and Gas law and ignores its own Citizen Survey.

Planning Department has issued it's proposed law changes and intends to brief the City Council's PEDR Policy meeting at the Oct 9 morning meeting at City Hall.   Although the Planning Department's own Citiizen Survey voted 117 to 51 against the waivers to law for fencing, height limits, landscaping and roads, the Planning Department chose to ignore their own survey and has proposed codifying these waivers into law.   Moreover, Planning proposes to eliminate obtaining Building Permits for this one single industry.  Clearly, this city department is working up a "sweetheart deal" for this one industry, and ignoring the wishes of its citizenry, particularly those of Ward 2 most directly affected by the new Oil and Gas developments.

See the proposed law changes starting at Page 10 of the meeting handout for the Oct 9 PEDR meeting at the city's site:


SEP 29 Update:   Conoco applies for four new Wellpads

City of Aurora has assigned DA-1969, DA-1971, DA-1974, and DA-1975 to these new Wellpad applications.  See the applications at the City's site.  

Write your Mayor and Council Members to tell them how you feel about ugly oil wells in Aurora that don't comply with the Performance Standards of Existing Aurora Regulation:

Do you want to see this from your patio?

  •      No Visual Attenuation fencing
  •      Multiple flares
  •       No paved turnout
  •         Non-compliant access road
  •          24-Hour Drilling operation lit up like daytime
  •           No Landscaping for erosion control or Visual Attenuation
  •            Unsecured open access gates that invite children to wander in
  •               Multiple cases of equipment exceeding published city 20-foot height limit

Do You Want This UNDER Your House?


     East of Mississippi and Powhattan.

Bottom of  Hole:

      UNDER Mississippi and Gun Club Road at             Murphy Creek.