Samson Looks To Answer Questions, Ease Concerns Ahead Of Development

Jan 8, 2020

A map showing the area near incoming drilling - within the black box. The yellow lines signify which areas company workers can take.
Credit Cooper McKim

Samson Energy Company held an outreach meeting Tuesday night as it moves to start drilling 10 to 15 new wells east of Cheyenne as soon as April.

The closest development would be more 1,000 feet from anyone's home, according to the company. Wyoming mandates that development occur at least 500 feet from an occupied structure.

Last month, about 2,000 nearby residents received notification of the potential operations, but Samson later clarified only a fraction of them will be affected by the development.Steve Trujillo, manager of regulatory affairs and environmental health and safety group for Samson Energy Company, said this meeting was held voluntarily and intended to educate only affected individuals.

"It's a private meeting so they can come and ask questions, learn about our operations, and try to keep them informed of our timing in our development plans in the area," said Trujillo, adding events like this are usually invite-only. "It's not intended for the general public."

A local environmental and landowners' group questioned the proximity and safety of the proposed wells last month, coming out against it. The group was not invited to attend.

At the event, Samson representatives stood at booths around the room intended to help answer questions about the impacts of the project. Topics spanned from dust mitigation plans to water quality.

It also included traffic information. Trujillo said the company has chosen non-residential roads with reduced speed limits for company workers. He added they have a detailed emergency management plan as well. Posters explained that noise levels wouldn't exceed ambient wind, the ingredients of their fracking fluid, and how walking rigs work.

The first of Samson's outreach meetings ahead of three new drilling locations.
Credit Cooper McKim

Homeowner Bob Sherard said he wanted to attend after receiving the notice in the mail.

"One of the things that generates a lot of questions is the notification you get and it has the information but it doesn't have layman-type terms," he said.

Sherard said he had questions about water quality, noise, and visual impacts. He also wondered, "Is that going to have some type of potential impact on the value of our property and as well as road safety and fire safety."

Nearby residents Keith McCampbell and his wife also attended. He asked questions about how fracking worked and whether their groundwater would be protected. He said he has a lot of questions, but is excited for the project.

"I'm excited that America has become the largest energy producing country in the world and when Iran does something stupid, we don't have to rely on their oil," McCampbell said. Another homeowner agreed, saying he had questions, but looked forward to a project generating more revenue for the county.

This outreach meeting was held for one of three drilling locations. Future meetings will be held for the other two. Samson's Trujillo said the company still needs to budget and decide exactly how many wells it wants between 10 and 15. The privately-held company has been in Laramie County since 2015.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Cooper McKim, at cmckim5@uwyo.edu.