BELFRY - An oil drilling project once considered a harbinger of a Bakken-like boom in the Beartooths has tapped out.
Energy Corp. of America recently informed Carbon County commissioners that an experimental well near Belfry won’t be developed further because tests indicated it wasn’t worthwhile.
“These results have led us to determine that this well is not a good candidate for further development for ECA,” said Kyle Mork, ECA chief operating officer. “Therefore, we do not have plans to further develop this well, or pursue additional wells in the area at this time.”
The well drew concern from area environmentalists concerned about clean water and soil erosion. Monday, commissioners agreed to move forward with plans for a special district to regulate water and noise pollution near the site.
Neighbors of the well north of Belfry had petitioned for a “Silvertip Zoning District,” to be be created to regulate water, noise pollution and the distance between oil wells and homes. It took signatures from 60 percent of the landowners in the area to move the zoning district forward, said John Prinkki, Carbon County commissioner.
However, landowners holding at least 50 percent of the area in the district have the ability to petition the district down. Prinkki said Monday it appeared rejection was possible, provided objectors submitted all the necessary signatures by Jan. 19.
Special zoning districts are rare in Carbon County, but not unheard of.
Back in the 1990s, when there was an attempt to relocate the Red Lodge Airport, three neighborhoods in the relocation area adopted zoning districts that restricted airplane use. The zoning districts prevented the airport from relocating to those neighborhoods.
If the district withstands protest, county commissioners would begin appointing people to a seven-person zoning commission.
In October 2013, ECA Chief Executive John Mork wowed a Billings audience with the opening of an ECA office in the city and visions of a Bakken-like oil boom in shadow of the Beartooth and Big Horn mountains.
Denver-based ECA has been exploring properties in the area for 50 years. ECA planned to develop up to 50 wells in two areas; the MacKay Dome near Roscoe and the Dean Dome, and also wells in Montana’s Big Horn Basin and in Wyoming along the Clarks Fork of the Yellowstone.
There are wells producing oil from the MacKay Dome.