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Del Norte drilling wraps up for now

Posted: Wednesday, Mar 20th, 2013

Roughnecks Devin Bee, left, and Chris Valdez, right, break off the kelly to make a connection on Wednesday at the First Liberty Energy site in Del Norte. Courier photo by Lauren Krizansky

Courier staff writer

DEL NORTE — First Liberty Energy (FLE) now has a well and will soon determine if oil and gas production is a part of Rio Grande County’s future.

Peterson Energy Assistant Drilling Manager Arvid Mosnes said in an interview Wednesday afternoon the drill was within 50-feet of total depth, ending at about 9,250 feet, and the well would be complete this week. The rig and its roughnecks are scheduled to leave the site this weekend.

Now, Oklahoma-based FLE will explore what lies beneath the Earth and analyze its raw materials.

“If it comes to any show, if there are any oils or hydrocarbons, the operator (FLE) will deal with it,” Mosnes said. “We just punch a hole in the ground. The next step is to bring in the production.”

Before heading off to the next drill site, Peterson Energy will run electric logs to further understand the Conejos Formation’s density in addition to another steel casing.

Keeping in line with Rio Grande County’s conditions, Peterson Energy cased to 4,800 feet, 200 feet below the Conejos Formation base, and continued to drill beyond to protect the aquifer from pollution.

Last week, the drilling revealed “pay zones,” the area where oil, gas and hydrocarbon are trapped under a cap rock. In this location, the cap rock is shale combined with a sandy like substance stemming from volcanic intrusion.

In February, the Rio Grande County Commissioners (RGCC) approved the FLE permit to drill five miles northwest of downtown Del Norte with a lengthy list of conditions including a pair specifically meeting community requests and the Rio Grande Hydrogeologic Study released earlier this year. The company agreed to exclusively employ a closed-loop, pitless system and extend the casing below the Conejos Formation, which FLE contested at the end of January despite the study’s findings. The study called for a 4,000-foot casing depth, and FLE and the RGCC reached a deal with respect to the unpredictable underground structure.

FLE hit 32 wells consecutively in Logan County, Okla., according to the company’s website. FLE capitalizes on its 100 percent wet well record with a “conservative development approach.”

Should FLE discover commercial level resources in Del Norte, more wells are likely in the future.

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