In another example of the kind of consensus building agreements the energy industry and the state of Colorado are increasingly using, the town of Erie and two major oil and gas players— Anadarko Petroleum Co. and Encana Oil & Gas (USA) Inc. — have reached memorandums of understanding over how new oil and gas wells will be drilled in the suburban community north of Denver.
The town council approved the agreements late Tuesday.
Erie has been bucking the state regulatory agency in charge of overseeing the oil and gas industry when it comes to further industry development in the urban community. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission has maintained that it should continue to maintain jurisdiction over all oil and gas activity when it comes to regulations and compliance — whether in a bedroom community like Erie, or on the expansive eastern plains of the Niobrara play.
At the core of the agreements, which are nearly identical for both, is a series of “best management practice” that, in some cases, exceed current industry and regulatory standards. Installing vapor recovery units on site is an example of parties going above and beyond the current standards.
The agreements will take effect Sept. 3, the same day that Erie’s 180-day moratorium expires on processing oil and gas permit applications for local issues such as truck routes.
“Colorado is known for having some of the highest operational standards for the industry in the country — and we feel that Erie has just raised the bar,” commented Fred Diehl, the assistant to the town administrator.
The vapor recovery units, or VRU’s, raise the recovery of emissions at the wellhead from about 95 percent, as required by the state’s public health department, to 98 or 99 percent over the life of the unit, according to Encana’s Community Spokesperson, Wendy Wiedenbeck.