La Plata County commissioners Tuesday delayed a vote on an agreement with Chevron, which is seeking to drill 16 new gas wells southeast of Durango near Elmore's Corner.The company has filed an application with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to drill the infill wells , but the county is seeking a memorandum of understanding with the company to address impacts to the surface land. The new wells would be drilled on existing pads.
Chevron requested Tuesday's vote be continued to next Tuesday because Commissioner Kellie Hotter was not present because of illness. A split vote between the remaining two commissioners would have meant the agreement was denied.
During the meeting, Jeremiah St. Ours said he just learned that one of the new wells would be on his property, where Chevron has an existing well and pipeline.
"I'm extremely upset about how this whole thing has been handled," he said. "As far as I can tell, this has all happened under cloak of darkness."
Susan Aldridge, an attorney for Chevron, said the company was not required to notify surface owners.
"The memorandum of understanding process is a legal document that's entered into between the county and the individual operators," she said. "It is not a process that under your own rules and the state rules must be noticed to the public."
Nonetheless, she said, the company placed ads in the paper and held a public meeting about its plans.
"Chevron is more than willing to meet with the people who have concerns," she said.
Another resident, Mary Beth Winski, complained that she had not been notified about the well proposed for her land.
The county has entered more than a dozen infill agreements with various companies, including BP and a previous agreement with Chevron.
Commissioners and county staff discussed adding a step to the process that could allow for notification of landowners within the agreement area whose land might be used for wells.