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Barrett walking away from West Tavaputs gas field

Published October 30, 2013 3:57 pm

Oil and gas • After working to safeguard rock art, company is selling holdings near Nine Mile Canyon.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Bill Barrett Corp. has agreed to sell its oil and gas holdings on the West Tavaputs Plateau nearly two years after it stopped drilling its hard-won project in Carbon County.

Houston-based EnerVest, Ltd. is putting up $325.5 million in cash to acquire Barrett's interest in this energy-rich area on the southern edge of the Uinta Basin near Nine Mile Canyon, along with exploration, production and gathering infrastructure, according to an Oct. 25 filing with Securities and Exchange Commission.

Barrett secured the rights to develop federal land here after agreeing in 2010 to numerous conservation measures to protect ancient art chiseled into the rock walls along Nine Mile Canyon. But the company went further by funding research and conservation, even as it suspended drilling operations in the face of plunging natural gas prices.

"I'm disappointed they are bowing out because they have proven to be an honorable player," said Jerry Spangler, an expert in Nine Mile archaeology and founder of the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance.

Barrett had completed about 300 producing wells before suspending drilling operations in 2012. The company has more than 500 locations left to drill on nearly 20,000 undeveloped acres, according to its website. EnerVest is also assuming $46 million in Barrett's financing obligations associated with compressor stations, according to a company press release.

The deal, which was reached last week, is set to close in mid-December, said EnerVest vice president Ron Whitmire, and company officials have yet to review the conservation agreements attached to the West Tavaputs project.

"It's premature for us to talk about it," he said.


Twitter: @brianmaffly




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