Fort Lupton City Council approved a special-use permit for 10 horizontally drilled oil wells and one production facility during its meeting Feb. 7.
The proposal is to use 14 acres of land near U.S. Highway 85 and Weld County Road 16. Initially, the project would need 14 acres for drilling. Once complete, the land would be reclaimed to almost four acres, some for development and some for the facility.
The vote to approve was 6-1. Councilwoman Valerie Blackston cast the “no” vote.
“I'd like to see us explore other avenues of economically developing our city,” she said. “We have had great success from the oil and gas industry. However, we have seen it’s not a completely reliable or sustainable industry in the long term. Other areas, such as agriculture, I'd like to see more of developed here.”
Kerr McGee Oil and Gas Onshore’s Matt Wells, the applicant’s regulatory advisor, said traffic from the plant would be routed away from town and onto U.S. Highway 85. The timeline is fast. Wells said pad construction start could start in June, the wells could be finished in September and the land reclaimed by May 2024.
“It takes about five to seven days to drill one well,” Wells told the council. “The drilling rig will stay on location until all the wells in that pad are drilled. Usually, for about a month or two, you’ll see the drill rig on location. Once the drill rig is gone, our hydraulic fracturing crews move in. They go down and fracture the shale rock.”
Most of the microfractures won’t hold a grain of sand, Wells said.
“The fractures that are big enough to hold a grain of sand, we put sand in those fractures to keep them open. That releases the oil and gas to come up through our well bore,” he said. “Most of the chemicals are chemicals that can be found in the house and garage.”
The plan is to use non-potable water. Wells noted that hydraulic fracturing “represents 0.1 of 1 percent of all water use in the state.”
Blackston also thought the location could go toward more commercial property, even with new tankless technology and the firm’s landscaping ideas.
“Oil tanks and wells are not aesthetically appealing to any other business that may want to develop in the area,” she said. “We've done a great job developing the industrial commercial part of our city. I think we should now shift our focus to developing more commercial retail amenities for our citizens.”
Recreation center expansion
In other business, councilors agreed to issue bonds for the expansion of the city’s recreation center.
Voters approved a $10 million debt increase to fund the project. With interest payments and an annual payment rate of $608,000 per year over 30 years, the total repayment cost comes in at $18.2 million.
The bonds could be sold as early as March 22.