BROOMFIELD, Colo. (CBS4)– It has been a tough year for the oil and gas industry as presidential candidates call for a ban on fracking and the state legislature overhauls regulations. But one Colorado operator is leading the way in the new world.
Extraction Oil and Gas company began implementing cutting-edge mitigation techniques long before the new law which prioritizes health and safety.
“We have to really bring it,” said Brian Cain with Extraction. “As oil and gas companies we have to step-up.”
Cain said Extraction has the most at stake as a Colorado-only operator. The company was one of the first to switch from diesel power to electric.
“It’s a step change for our industry. It runs basically like a Tesla,” said Cain.
The change eliminates the smell and noise associated with diesel generators, but the company didn’t stop there. It erected sound walls and a berm around its drilling pad and began using a special synthetic drilling mud to eliminate the odor of oil and gas.
“Part of what we wanted to do is make our operations as little impact as possible.”
Which is why the company does extensive air monitoring and water testing as well.
“Here in Broomfield, we actually agreed to water testing that is above and beyond the law.”
Cain said they also signed a contract with Broomfield to do 24-7 air monitoring, measuring 50-60 chemicals at a time.
“As part of our operator agreement, we give money to the City and County of Broomfield and let them do their own air monitoring and that way we’re maximizing the credibility. They have an independent third party air consulting firm conducting it. They’re experts. Everything we’ve seen is well below any levels of concern, well below. So we’re very excited about that and we think that’s a game changer for Colorado. It’s important to be adaptable and that’s what you have to be in the new world here.”
Despite all the best practices Extraction has in place, Broomfield City Councilwoman Guyleen Castriotta says they still get complaints about odor, construction noise and health concerns. For her, like many opponents of oil and gas, no level of mitigation is enough. She said her goal is to ban drilling in residential areas.
But the director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, which is charged with implementing the new law, says his goal is to mitigate the impacts to the extent possible while allowing drilling to continue.