Oil drilling in Laramie County

A drilling rig in northern Laramie County is seen in fall 2014. Staff/Wyoming Tribune Eagle

CHEYENNE – Landowners whose property lies near a proposed drilling project just east of Cheyenne had an opportunity to ask questions and gain insight from Samson Energy Company during an outreach meeting Tuesday night.

Through the project, which has drawn criticism from the Cheyenne Area Landowners Coalition, Samson would drill 10 to 15 wells in several drilling spacing units, which have gained approval from the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Tuesday’s meeting at Little America Hotel and Resort was only for residents near the four-well drilling site that will be located just north of Kooper Trail and just east of Shapra Road. The plans for the other two sites have not yet been finalized.

During the meeting, landowners had the chance to interact at booths with experts in every part of the drilling process. Donald Bobiney, who lives on Shapra Road, came to the meeting to have his environmental concerns addressed.

He said protecting water quality near the wells was his top priority.

Bobiney also said he was concerned about noise pollution. During the meeting, Cherice Wheeler, a safety supervisor for Samson who was on hand to answer questions, demonstrated a chart showing the noise level produced by a variety of activities, including drilling.

The chart showed that with the sound walls that Samson normally uses around their sites, drilling usually produces sound equivalent to that of a normal conversation. Without the walls, the noise level jumps to above that of a lawn mower.

“When you talk about decibels, people don’t really understand what 85 decibels mean, so this helps illustrate that,” Wheeler said.

Bobiney said he felt more confident in the process after speaking with officials like Wheeler at the meeting Tuesday.

“I imagine we’re going to have another presentation ... but as of right now, it looks good,” he said.

Others didn’t have particular worries about the project, but came to the meeting to learn what they could. Brad Alexander, who learned about the project through a letter in the mail a few weeks ago, said he just wanted to gain general information about the project.

“It’s been very positive,” Alexander said. “I’m hoping for a good outcome.”

Pete Obermueller, president of the Wyoming Petroleum Association, said he appreciated Samson going above and beyond to engage with other landowners.

“There’s things that you’re required to do,” Obermueller said. “These guys do the things they’re not necessarily required to do.”

The meeting also offered first responders a chance to gain a better understanding of the drilling process and how to ensure safety in the area. Laramie County Fire District 2 chief Jason Caughey attended the meeting because the wells would fall within his district’s jurisdiction.

“Samson has been very good at making sure we’re abreast of what’s happening and keeping us informed,” Caughey said. “They’ve been great partners for the community.”

Samson spokesman Steve Trujillo said the company plans to hold outreach meetings for landowners near its other two drilling sites once those plans move forward.

Tom Coulter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s state government reporter. He can be reached at tcoulter@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3124. Follow him on Twitter at @tomcoulter_.

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