Why Shell Has Abandoned Its Yampa River Project

February 2010

Shell Exploration and Production Company will drop its effort to seek billions of gallons of Yampa River water for an oil shale project in Rio Blanco County, but it hasn't given up on extracting oil from Colorado. That's according to the Grand Junction Sentinel, which reports that Shell officials cite the global recession in their decision to back down from the proposal, which has been controversial with environmental groups, businesses, and government officials. The bid sought about eight percent of the average spring flow from the Yampa, which sustains endangered fish species and flows through Dinosaur National Monument in western Colorado, notes The Denver Post. Drew Peternell, the Colorado water-project manager for Trout Unlimited, believes Shell's application was vulnerable to challenges because "they don't even know how much water they need. It was very close to speculation, which is not allowed in Colorado water law."