Houston company seeks drilling permits in Colo. Springs

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — A Houston company that bought most of the Banning Lewis Ranch in Colorado Springs has filed for permits to two wells, the first step by the company to drill for gas and oil within city limits.

The Gazette reported today that Ultra Resources Inc. plans to conduct exploratory drilling for gas and oil on three to four sites in unincorporated areas of El Paso County next year.

Ultra filed its applications with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on Dec. 15, with a decision expected next year.

Colorado Springs, however, has a drilling moratorium in place through May, and a top mayoral aide that it still stands. “Other than that, we just have to see how it plays out,” said Steve Cox, Mayor Steve Bach’s chief of staff.

Howard Boigon, a Denver attorney hired by the city of Colorado Springs to provide guidance through the oil and gas drilling regulation process, said he was less certain about the moratorium’s role.

“I don’t think we know yet,” he told The Gazette. “We’re in the early stages of dealing with all this, so we have to work through that.”

County officials are working on their own set of drilling regulations for an industry that has had little presence in the area until recently. El Paso County commissioners will hold a work session Dec. 29 to discuss a draft of regulations for areas in their jurisdiction.

The county has given tentative approval to Ultra to do exploratory drilling on three sites, but it’s waiting for minor revisions to the company’s plans before giving final approval, said Craig Dossey, county project manager/planner.

Ultra also has approval to start exploratory drilling on a fourth site in an unincorporated part of the county that it took over from Pine Ridge Oil & Gas. Dossey said Ultra received a renewal of the Pine Ridge permit on Nov. 8, and because the site is ready to be drilled they can start at any time.

An Ultra spokeswoman said Wednesday that operations have not started.