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Colorado county OKs shale drilling

LA PLATA COUNTY -- La Plata County, Colo., commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with a Texas energy company that plans to drill two exploratory shale oil wells in the southwestern part of this southwest Colorado county, The Durango Herald reported.

Swift Energy Operating LLC will now go to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission with applications for two exploratory drilling and spacing units, The Herald said.

Their target is the Mancos Shale, a shale play that stretches across northwestern New Mexico into southwestern Colorado that is thought to be rich in oil and natural gas, the paper reported.

The memorandum puts several requirements on Swift’s drilling operations, including emissions controls, water-sampling standards and well-pad sharing mandates going beyond what is required by the state, according to The Herald.

If Swift’s applications are approved by the state, the company said it hopes to apply for a drilling permit in April and move a rig into the area by this summer, The Herald said.

The Mancos Shale was at the center of a two-day conference this week that drew about 500 people from around the nation to Farmington, and most of the drilling into the shale so far has taken place in the southern part of the San Juan Basin, the paper reported.

Prospects for oil in the northern part of the basin are unknown, said Bob Redweik, Swift’s corporate manager of health, safety and environment.

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