HELENA, Mont. (AP) – A Colorado exploration company will stop drilling next to Glacier National Park, with company officials saying they haven’t located enough oil and gas to continue after 14 wells and more than a decade of work.
Anschutz Exploration Corp.’s leases are adjacent to Glacier on the western side of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, with some wells drilled within 10 miles of the park.
That has drawn protests from conservationists worried about the effects of hydraulic fracturing and the concern of officials from the park and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the possible effects on the resources and wildlife.
Anschutz spokesman Brent Temmer said the decision to halt operations was not influenced by any external pressure.
“Our decision to cease exploration is driven by the fact that we have not located enough resources to warrant continuing exploration,” Temmer said Wednesday in an emailed response to an Associated Press query. “We came to the decision after extensive technical analysis and data interpretation. This is a business decision not affected by any other issue.”
Anschutz is the last of three companies with energy exploration leases on the Blackfeet reservation to halt or suspend operations, effectively putting new oil and gas development on the reservation on hold.
Tribal officials said Wednesday the lack of success has scared away most U.S. companies, but they already are in talks with several Canadian firms about taking over the leases.
“These guys couldn’t make it work, but maybe somebody else can,” said Grinnell Day Chief, the tribe’s oil and gas minerals director. “The oil and gas is here. It’s just the problem of getting it out of the ground.”
Regardless, Anschutz’s decision to pull up stakes might alleviate _ even if it’s only temporary _ some concerns expressed by Glacier officials about the potential of water quality being affected, the possible spread invasive weeds and the dark night skies being broken up by lighted drilling rigs, park spokeswoman Denise Germann said.
If oil and gas activity resumes on reservation land near Glacier, park officials will continue to state their concerns, she said.
“As a neighbor, we will comment appropriately,” Germann said. But, she added, “That’s their decision. That’s their land.”
The Park Service has called for a comprehensive study on the cumulative effects of all past and future drilling and what would happen if the wells start producing oil and gas.
Tribal officials have dismissed the concerns by federal agencies as outside interference, a view that Day Chief repeated Wednesday.
“This is our land, these are our minerals, and we will develop them the way we want,” he said.
The Missoulian first reported Anschutz’s decision to halt drilling.
Anschutz officials said they will continue to operate their five producing wells and surrender the rest of its leases after completing reclamation projects that include plugging other wells and restoring the sites.
Newfield Production Co. and Rosetta Resources, the two companies that already have halted exploration in the central and eastern parts of the reservation, are meeting with tribal officials in April to discuss whether they plan to surrender their leases, Day Chief said.
The tribe is in discussions with at least three Canadian companies to take over the leases, Day Chief said. Those companies, which Day Chief declined to identify, have a track record of producing wells in the same basin formation just to the north, he said
“They have it figured out across the border,” Day Chief said. “But the U.S. companies have pretty much lost interest.”
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The 5 worst things you could do for your roof
- 6 coolest things brewing in Arizona
- The virus that keeps head and neck cancers on the rise
- State Fair ‘Kid Reporter’ has all the angles covered
- 4 important things to know about timeshare maintenance fees
- Signs of delayed car crash injuries
- The truth about sports concussions
- The Alzheimer's epidemic: Facts you need to know
- The season is here, keep your Fantasy Football team strong all season
- 8 TV shows you can't miss this fall
- Football is here: 6 tips to make this your best season ever
- Gameday recipes and beers to match
- 6 reasons the Cardinals are driven to win the Super Bowl
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.