A standing-room-only crowd of about 300 people spilled out into the hallway at Chesapeake Energy’s community meeting Dec. 4 at the Clarion Hotel in Douglas.
Most of the seats in the room were filled well before the scheduled start time of 6 p.m. Tuesday and more chairs were being brought in 15 minutes before the meeting was to begin.
Chesapeake executives shared details of their drilling activities and their future plans for Converse County.
Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Interim Director Bob King, Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality Director Todd Parfitt and key members of his staff, and the Converse County Board of Commissioners also shared their perspectives of the burgeoning oil and gas activity in the county.
The meeting included a question-and-answer session at the end, with audience members expressing both concerns and general curiosity about the impacts of the increasing drilling activity here.
A Chesapeake well blowout last May near Douglas has been an ongoing focus of concern for nearby residents, who have complained about health-related issues from that incident, as well as quality of life and property value impacts from the wells near their homes.
Some at the meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s handling of the incident and said state regulatory officials should have done more.
Chesapeake is operating nine drilling rigs in the southern Powder River Basin and said it will soon add a tenth. The company is exploiting the highly touted Niobrara Shale formation and has devoted a large portion of its national resources to Converse County.
With natural gas prices depressed, Chesapeake has shifted its focus to oil. Of its 98 rigs working in the United States, 89 are drilling for oil and just nine for gas.
The company is the leading producer of natural gas in Converse County, producing nearly 3.7 million mcf so far this year, and the second leading producer of oil, just behind Samson Resources.
Chesapeake is gaining ground on Samson. Its 2012 oil production to date is more than 1.2 million barrels, just behind Samson’s 1.34 million barrels.
Chesapeake presently has 55 horizontal wells operating in the county.