Earned Trust Results Brings Positive Outcomes

With a little over a year since the Setback Rule took effect, companies are communicating more successfully with surface owners.  “This was the goal,” states Supervisor Mark Watson. “Getting everyone on the same page of understanding helps alleviate miscommunication, misconceptions and frustrations before operations begin."  That was the objective of the required Mitigation Plans and community meetings when the rule was incorporated.  However, as Watson points out, some operators have been practicing these approaches before they were required to do so and have seen the type of outcomes for which the agency was shooting when the rule was designed. 

One such company is Samson Energy, which has operations in Laramie County.  Samson proactively held meetings with surface owners that might be impacted by their operations since they started operating in the southeast part of the state.  “Though oil and gas operations are not new to most of Wyoming, they are new to Laramie County, and communication is extremely important to the residents there,” Watson explains.  

Through the use of illustrations, pictures and videos to demonstrate their operations, Samson’s staff has a real “hands-on” approach in their meetings.  The goal is to answer every question and hopefully, assure surface owners that Samson’s operations were planned with everyone in mind, notes Steve Trujillo.  Trujillo, Samson’s Manager of Regulatory Affairs and EHS, is passionate about good relationships and says Samson wants residents to know that they strive to be a considerate neighbor.  “Even though we will be accessing our minerals, it’s our goal to do this with as little disturbance as possible to their lives.” 

Earlier this year, WOGCC staff attended Samson’s mitigation meetings in Laramie County.  Samson sent out numerous invitations to residents to attend and discuss the wells the company would be drilling near them.  Only a handful of residents actually showed up.  “Typically, when you hold a meeting, you want strong attendance,” notes Watson.  “However, in this situation, low attendance is a good thing.  It’s an indication the process is working.  The lack of concern suggests that trust has been built.  When operators work hard at doing the right thing, it builds a level of confidence among the community and the outcomes are far better.” 

(Numerous visuals are used at Samson’s mitigation meetings to help attendees understand what will be taking place during the company’s oil and gas operations)

         Numerous visuals are used at Samson's mitigation meetings to help attendees