By Bobby Magill – The Coloradoan – May 29, 2012
Marathon Oil took its first step to drill for oil and gas on two Fort Collins-owned natural areas Tuesday.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission approved Marathon’s drilling plan for up to 32 oil and gas wells tapping the Niobrara shale on land within the city of Fort Collins’ Meadow Springs Ranch and Soapstone Prairie Natural Area and on private land.
Marathon, which drilled a well near the Rawhide Energy Station in 2011, requested that the COGCC expand existing and establish new designated oil and gas drilling zones known as drilling and spacing units. The units encompass 13 large parcels of land north of Rawhide partly in Soapstone Prairie and Meadow Springs Ranch, according to Tuesday’s COGCC meeting agenda.
“It’s not like a permit – it doesn’t authorize them to drill,” said COGCC Acting Director Thom Kerr, adding that defining a well spacing unit is an administrative move to identify all the landowners in the drilling zone around an oil and gas well.