AURORA | The City of Aurora is seeking comments on two oil and gas developer agreements that were heard before an informal meeting of city council members last week. 

Draft agreements, maps and a copy of best management practices are available here.

One of the agreements, made with ConocoPhillips was approved by council members to be heard at a regular city council meeting. The other, with Axis Exploration, was unanimously disliked by city council members over concerns about possible legal actions written into the agreement. The measure was postponed for study but is expected to return to the body after more negotiations.

ConocoPhillips is seeking approval of 45 well sites, eight of which are within a quarter-mile of a home. The oil and gas developer is also seeking 10 permits through the administrative approval process with the city and want the operator agreement to be passed with a waiver of reconsideration, essentially speeding up the approval. They say not doing so would hinder their production schedule.

The Axis Exploration agreement would allow development at four identified well site locations in Aurora. 

Councilwoman Nicole Johnston has advocated for the the city to slow down the process of approving the agreements because they are working legal documents. Likewise, councilman Johnny Watson said he didn’t think the council members should delay approving the agreements “just to delay them.”

Council members decided to allow operator agreements shortly before SB19-181 was passed by the Colorado Legislature earlier this year. That legislation changes the focus of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to focus on health, environment and safety. It also shifts regulation to local governments. Broomfield, which also has operator agreements, decided to enact a moratorium on oil and gas development. 

Some Aurora City Council members, such as Watson, have said they believe the agreements to go a step further than SB181’s goals. 

Both oil and gas companies agreed to higher reporting standards than currently required by the COGCC: purchasing additional insurance not required by the COGCC and responding to odor complaints within 24 hours, also not regulated by the state.

Even so, several Aurora residents voiced opposition to the agreement drafts during the city council’s public comment period at city council meeting last Monday.

One speaker pointed to one section in the Axis Exploration agreement that noted the city would receive a “confidential” map of proposed pipelines.

“If city council didn’t catch that, what else didn’t they catch?” the resident said.

Comments on the two applications can be sent to [email protected]. 

— KARA MASON, Staff Writer