BEFORE THE OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF COLORADO

 

IN THE MATTER OF THE PROMULGATION AND ESTABLISHMENT OF FIELD RULES TO GOVERN OPERATIONS FOR THE Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations, Hereford FIELD, WELD COUNTY, COLORADO

 

)

)

)

)

)

)

)

 

CAUSE NO. 421

 

DOCKET NO. 180700576

 

TYPE:  SPACING

 

ORDER NO. 421-119

REPORT OF THE COMMISSION

  

            The Commission heard this matter on July 30, 2018, at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, 1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 801, Denver, Colorado, upon application for an order to: 1) vacate the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-57 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 2) vacate Order No. 421-64 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 3) vacate Order No. 421-78 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of the oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 4) vacate an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-82 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.,  for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation; 5) vacate Order No. 421-91 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation; and 6) establish an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and approve up to 15 new horizontal wells, for a total of up to 18 horizontal wells, for the production of oil, gas and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations.    

 

FINDINGS

 

The Commission finds as follows:

 

1.         HighPoint Operating Corporation (Operator No. 10071) (“HighPoint” or “Applicant”) is an interested party in the subject matter of the above-referenced hearing.

 

2.         Due notice of the time, place and purpose of the hearing has been given in all respects as required by law.

 

3.         The Commission has jurisdiction over the subject matter embraced in said notice, and of the parties interested therein, and jurisdiction to promulgate the hereinafter prescribed order pursuant to the Oil and Gas Conservation Act.

 

4.         Rule 318.a. of the Rules and Regulations of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission requires that, on unspaced lands, wells drilled in excess of 2,500 feet in depth be located not less than 600 feet from any lease line, and located not less than 1,200 feet from any other producible or drilling oil or gas well when drilling to the same common source of supply. Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., are subject to this Rule for the Fort Hays and Carlile Formations.

 

5.         On February 22, 2010 (corrected January 19, 2012), the Commission entered Order No. 421-1 which, among other things, established 58 approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing units for certain lands, including Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and approved one horizontal well within each unit, for the development and operation of the Niobrara Formation, with the productive interval of the wellbore to be located no closer than 600 feet from the unit boundaries, without exception being granted by the Director.

 

6.         On January 26, 2015 (amended April 13, 2015), the Commission entered Order No. 421-57 which, among other things, established 12 approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing units for certain lands, including Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and approved one horizontal well within each unit, for the production of oil, gas and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation.

 

7.         On July 20, 2015, the Commission entered Order No. 421-64 which, among other things, modified Order No. 421-57 to allow for a total of up to six horizontal wells within 12 approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing units established for certain lands, including Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation, with the productive interval of the wellbore to be located no closer than 460 feet from the unit boundaries, and no closer than 150 feet from the productive interval of any other wellbore located in the unit, without exception being granted by the Director.

 

8.         On December 12, 2016, the Commission entered Order No. 421-78 which, among other things, modified Order Nos. 421-48 and 421-63 to allow the productive interval of any permitted well to be located no closer than 300 feet from the unit boundaries of six approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing units established for certain lands, including Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of the oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation.

 

9.         On January 30, 2017, the Commission entered Order No. 421-82 which, among other things, established four approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing units for certain lands, including Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., providing that the existing 640-acre units for the production of the existing wells shall be maintained only until the date of first completion of the new horizontal well into the unit, and approved up to eight new horizontal wells in the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit, providing that the productive interval of each wellbore shall be located no closer than 300 feet from the boundaries of the unit and no closer than 150 feet from the productive interval of another well producing from the same source of supply within the unit, unless an exception is granted by the Director, for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation.

 

10.       On September 11, 2017, the Commission entered Order No. 421-91 which, among other things, approved an additional seven horizontal wells, for a total of 15 horizontal wells, in four approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing units established for certain lands, including Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation.

 

11.       On May 31, 2018, HighPoint, by its attorneys, filed with the Commission a verified application (“Application”) for an order to: 1) vacate the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-57 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 2) vacate Order No. 421-64 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 3) vacate Order No. 421-78 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of the oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 4) vacate an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-82 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation; 5) vacate Order No. 421-91 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation; and 6) establish an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit for the following described lands (“Application Lands”), and approve up to 15 new horizontal wells within the unit, for a total of 18 horizontal wells, for the production of oil, gas and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations, with the productive interval of the wellbores in the Niobrara and Fort Hays Formations to be located no closer than 150 feet from unit boundaries, the productive interval of the wellbores in the Codell and Carlile Formations to be located no closer than 300 feet from the unit boundaries, and the productive interval of the wellbores in the Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations to be located no closer than 150 feet from the productive interval of any other wellbore located in the unit, unless the Director grants an exception:  

 

Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

Section 34:      All

 

Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

Section 3:        All

 

Applicant stated that any horizontal wells to be drilled under this Application will be drilled from no more than five multi-well pads on the surface of the drilling unit, or on adjacent lands with consent of the landowner, unless an exception is granted by the Director.

 

12.       Applicant further requested that the 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. be modified by requiring the Elsie #7-34H Well (API No. 05-123-330631) to be brought into the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit proposed for the Application Lands as of the initial date of completion operations associated with the first well completed under this approved Application, changing allocation of production from a 640-acre unit basis to an approximate 1,280-acre unit basis.  

 

13.       Additionally, Applicant requested that the 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. be modified by requiring the Critter Creek #2-03H Well (API No. 05-123-31047-00) and its side-track (API No. 05-123-31047-01) to be brought into the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit proposed for the Application Lands as of the initial date of completion operations associated with the first well completed under this approved Application, changing allocation of production from a 640-acre unit basis to an approximate 1,280-acre unit basis.     

 

14.       On July 3, 2018, supplemented on July 13, 2018, HighPoint, by its attorneys, filed with the Commission a written request to approve the Application based on the merits of the verified Application and the supporting exhibits. Sworn written testimony and exhibits were submitted in support of the Application.

 

            15.       Land testimony and exhibits submitted in support of the Application by Leslie Mann, Landman for HighPoint, showed that the surface and mineral ownership of the Application Lands is owned in fee and that HighPoint has a leasehold interest with the right to drill in the Application Lands.

 

16.       Geology testimony and exhibits submitted in support of the Application by Dan Moore, Senior Geologist for HighPoint, showed that the Niobrara Formation is present throughout the Application Lands, is approximately 295 to 300 feet thick, and is a common source of supply underlying the Application Lands. The geologic testimony showed that the Niobrara Formation consists of a sequence of chalks, marls, and limestones. Geologic testimony further showed that the Fort Hays Formation is present throughout the Application Lands, is approximately 16 to 22 feet thick, and is a common source of supply underlying the Application Lands. The geologic testimony showed that the Fort Hays Formation is limestone. Geologic testimony further showed that the Codell Formation is present throughout the Application Lands, is approximately 19 to 21 feet thick, and is a common source of supply underlying the Application Lands. The geologic testimony showed that the Codell Formation is a sequence of siltstones and sandstones. Geologic testimony further showed that the Carlile Formation is present throughout the Application Lands, is approximately 29 to 32 feet thick, and is a common source of supply underlying the Application Lands. The geologic testimony showed that the Carlile Formation consists of shale.

 

17.       Engineering testimony and exhibits submitted in support of the Application by Sean Stewart, Senior Reservoir Engineer at HighPoint, showed that HighPoint plans to drill four to six horizontal Codell Formation wells and 10 to 12 horizontal Niobrara Formation wells. In addition, the engineering testimony showed that the drainage area for analog horizontal Niobrara Formation wells is estimated at 54 acres per well, and an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit is therefore not less than the maximum area that can be efficiently, economically and effectively drained by 10 to 12 horizontal wells producing oil, gas and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation. The engineering testimony also showed that the drainage area for analog horizontal Codell Formation wells is estimated at 78 acres per well, and an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit is therefore not less than the maximum area that can be efficiently, economically and effectively drained by four to six horizontal wells producing oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation. Engineering testimony also showed that the primary drilling targets are the Niobrara and Codell Formations, but that horizontal wells targeting the Codell Formation might deviate into the Fort Hays and Carlile Formations. However, this type of occurrence will not impact the drainage area calculations.

 

18.       In addition, the engineering testimony showed that the average drainage distance from wellbores in the Niobrara and Fort Hays Formations is estimated to be 115 feet. The engineering testimony also showed that the average drainage distance from wellbores in the Codell and Carlile Formations is estimated to be 170 feet. Thus, the requested setbacks of 150 feet from the unit boundaries for wellbores in the Niobrara and Fort Hays Formations and 300 feet from the unit boundaries for wellbores in the Codell and Carlile formations are appropriate.

 

19.       The above-referenced testimony and exhibits show that granting the Application will allow more efficient reservoir drainage, will prevent waste, will assure a greater ultimate recovery of hydrocarbons, and will not violate correlative rights.

 

20.       HighPoint agreed to be bound by oral order of the Commission.

 

            21.       Based on the facts stated in the verified Application, having received no protests, and based on the Hearing Officer review of the Application under Rule 511, the Commission should enter an order to: 1) vacate the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-57 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 2) vacate Order No. 421-64 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 3) vacate Order No. 421-78 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of the oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation; 4) vacate an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-82 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.,  for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation; 5) vacate Order No. 421-91 as it applies to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation; 6) establish an approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and approve up to 15 new horizontal wells, for a total of up to 18 horizontal wells, for the production of oil, gas and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations; 7) maintain the approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. for the Elsie #7-34H Well (API No. 05-123-330631) only until commencement of completion operations on the first new well drilled in the proposed 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit; and 8) maintain the approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. for the Critter Creek #2-03H Well (API No. 05-123-31047-00) and its side-track (API No. 05-123-31047-01) only until commencement of completion operations on the first new well drilled in the proposed 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit.

 

ORDER

 

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:

 

1.         The approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-57 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Codell Formation is hereby vacated.

 

2.         Order No. 421-64 is vacated as to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

 

3.         Order No. 421-78 is vacated as to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

 

4.         An approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-82 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. for the production of oil, gas, and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara Formation is hereby vacated.

 

5.         Order No. 421-91 is vacated as to Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. and Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

 

6.         An approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit for the below-described lands, is hereby established, and up to 15 new horizontal wells within the unit, for a total of up to 18 horizontal wells, are hereby approved, for the production of oil, gas and associated hydrocarbons from the Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations:

 

Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

Section 34:      All

 

Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M.

Section 3:        All

 

7.         The productive interval of the wellbores in the Niobrara and Fort Hays Formations will be located no closer than 150 feet from unit boundaries, the productive interval of the wellbores in the Codell and Carlile Formations will be located no closer than 300 feet from the unit boundaries, and the productive interval of the wellbores in the Niobrara, Fort Hays, Codell, and Carlile Formations will be located no closer than 150 feet from the productive interval of any other wellbore located in the unit, unless the Director grants an exception.

 

8.         All wells permitted under this Order will be drilled from no more than five multi-well pads within the Application Lands, or on adjacent lands with surface owner consent, unless the Director grants an exception. 

 

9.         Order No. 421-1 is hereby amended to provide that the approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., is applicable only to the Elsie #7-34H Well (API No. 05-123-330631). No additional wells shall be drilled in the approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. The Elsie #7-34H Well (API No. 05-123-330631) shall continue paying to the approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 until the date of commencement of completion operations on the first horizontal well approved by this Order, at which time the Elsie #7-34H Well will be brought into the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit created by this Order. Upon bringing the Elsie #7-34H Well (API No. 05-123-330631) into the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit created by this Order, the approximate 640-acre unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 34, Township 12 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., shall be deemed vacated.

 

10.       Order No. 421-1 is hereby amended to provide that the approximate 640-acre drilling and spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M., is applicable only to the Critter Creek #2-03H Well (API No. 05-123-31047-00) and its side-track (API No. 05-123-31047-01). No additional wells shall be drilled in the approximate 640-acre unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. The Critter Creek #2-03H Well (API No. 05-123-31047-00) and its side-track (API No. 05-123-31047-01) shall continue paying to the approximate 640-acre spacing unit established by Order No. 421-1 until the date of commencement of completion operations on the first horizontal well approved by this Order, at which time the Critter Creek #2-03H Well and its side-track will be brought into the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit created by this Order. Upon bringing the Critter Creek #2-03H Well (API No. 05-123-31047-00) and its side-track (API No. 05-123-31047-01) into the approximate 1,280-acre drilling and spacing unit created by this Order, the approximate 640-acre unit established by Order No. 421-1 for Section 3, Township 11 North, Range 63 West, 6th P.M. shall be deemed vacated.

 

            IT IS FURTHER ORDERED:

 

1.         The provisions contained in the above order shall become effective immediately.

 

2.         The Commission expressly reserves its right, after notice and hearing, to alter, amend or repeal any and/or all of the above orders.

 

3.         Under the State Administrative Procedure Act, the Commission considers this Order to be final agency action for purposes of judicial review within 35 days after the date this Order is mailed by the Commission.

 

4.         An application for reconsideration by the Commission of this Order is not required prior to the filing for judicial review.

 

ENTERED this 20th day of August, 2018, as of July 30, 2018.       

 

                                                                        OIL AND GAS CONSERVATION COMMISSION

                                                                        OF THE STATE OF COLORADO

 

 

                                                                        By__________________________________

Julie Spence Prine, Secretary