Payette County is inching toward its next generation of gas drilling. But the rules and the faces have changed.
Snake River Oil and Gas has submitted new drilling permits to the state of Idaho, the first permits under new rules approved by the Idaho Legislature and managed by the Idaho Department of Lands. One of the permits has been approved. The second is expected to be decided upon by IDOL sometime later this month.
In June 2012, Snake River Oil and Gas launched a battery of seismic testing—called vibroseising—in which the company shook the earth's crust to determine where the best gas deposits might be.
Snake River Oil and Gas has snapped up hundreds of land and mineral leases from public and private interests in the wake of previous efforts from Bridge Resources, which saw its drilling operations halt in 2011 when its financial house of cards collapsed. When Bridge started selling off its assets, including a pile of land and mineral leases, Snake River moved in quickly to begin staking its claim in preparation of its own operations.
Meanwhile, in the shadow of new state rules, Payette County Commissioners want some new rules of their own. During a June 24 hearing, when commissioners took up a proposed county ordinance that would have restricted hours of drilling operations to 7 a.m.-7 p.m., at least one commissioner balked.
"This type of drilling isn't an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job," said Payette County Commissioner Rudy Endrikat. "If they were drilling 24 hours a day for two years, then it would be a big deal, but 10 days isn't."
The proposed ordinance would have also limited well locations to a minimum of 200 feet from the residence of a owner of mineral rights and a minimum of 500 feet from the residence of any any homeowner without ownership to the mineral rights.
Payette County Commissioners have set another public hearing on the new rules for Monday, July 22.