by Larry Patrick
WALSENBURG — The Huerfano County Commissioners received an update from the Shell Energy group on oil and gas exploration in the county. Philippe Heer of Shell Oil said the data being gathered is looking good. He says the surveys have been small but effective, and Shell has 130,000 acres leased so far for possible exploration. They have also bought the Thorne Ranch at Farisita for water needs, and have hired five local people to oversee the ranch for them. Herr wants to set up a water storage facility for when they begin to use the water.
Shell Oil will drill just one well but will file for four as a fallback plan with the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). Heer anticipates no hydro-fracking will be done on the first well. The permits will be filed by the end of the month.
Another community forum is being held tonight at 5:30 at the community center in Walsenburg.. Shell will be discussing the location of the drill sites, and the social and economic possibilities for the county if oil is found. Herr says Shell Oil wants to be transparent with the local community.
Commissioner Chairman, Scott King, says the assessed valuation in the county is going down and we need to see jobs created to turn things around. According to King, Shell could be the company to do this.