In early 2010, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter led the cheers when Bridge Resources successfully hit pay dirt, or at least natural gas, when it began drilling in Payette County.
"We hit a hell of a big natural gas well," said Otter.
In fact, Bridge was successful in as many as seven of 11 drilling sites in the New Plymouth area. The Canadian company with offices in Colorado was on its way to becoming Idaho's first commercial drilling operator in the state's history.
But not all was well behind the scenes. In a Boise Weekly investigation on Oct. 5, we reported how the company's stock had practically bottomed out, trading for pennies, and was swimming in red ink with debts to a foreign bank as high as $44 million. The company's top three executives-CEO Edward Davies, vice president Thomas Stewart and exploration manager Kim Parson-abruptly resigned on Sept. 20.
Today, Bridge Resources announced along with a joint-venture partner Paramax Resources that they have retained the services of Meagher Energy Advisors, a Colorado company specializing in divesting oil and gas properties. A statement to Bridge investors said Meagher would "review strategic alternatives in regard to the Western Idaho Basin project. This joint process involves their combined 100 percent interests in the Willow and Hamilton development projects. The process is being undertaken with the support of Bridge's senior lenders."
A spokeswoman for the Payette County Planning and Zoning Office told BW today that should a new owner take over Bridge's assets, any existing permits would need to be properly transferred.
"This doesn't surprise me one bit," said Michael Dalton, a New Plymouth resident who repeatedly told Bridge officials that his land wasn't for sale for drilling. "Bridge has been awfully quiet lately. This is probably why."
Bridge had said that it had intended on using fracking on some of wells, the controversial method of injecting high-pressured fluids into the wells to enchance gas flows. The method and the fluids to be used were the subject of much conversation during the recent negotiated rule-making sessions by the Idaho Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
"These recent developments with Bridge just underscore the need for rules that are protective of Idaho's clean water," said Sara Arkle, communications associate with the Idaho Conservation League. "You can't rely on out-of-state companies to protect the quality of life in our community. It's a new industry and until this industry gets its feet underneath it, we need to have regulations at the state level that are consistent with the values of Idahoans. On Nov. 15th, the public will have the opportunity to talk to the governor and other members of the commission about these very issues."