Garfield Co. leads in energy development |

Garfield Co. leads in energy development

Donna Gray
Vail, CO Colorado

DEBEQUE ” Garfield County continues to grow as one of the prime hot spots for natural gas development in the state.

Currently, the county has about a a third of all new drilling permits issued in the state, said Brian Macke, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

While Weld County has most of the active wells, Garfield is seeing the most development. There are 3,600 active wells in Garfield County and almost 12,000 in Weld. However, activity in 2007 is expected to be about the same as last year because of soft gas prices, Macke said.

“The industry says (drilling this year) will be flat or level with last year,” he said.

Garfield will continue to lead in the number of permits issued this year, accounting for about one third of the number issued statewide, Macke said. Northwest Colorado accounts for about 44 percent of the drilling permits in the state.

The oil and gas commission has also started tracking the number of wells drilled directionally from a well pad. A relatively new technology that allows drills to be aimed at an angle to penetrate the underlying rock formations, it allows multiple wells to be drilled from one well pad.

It’s also credited with opening the Piceance Basin to drilling because it can most efficiently get at the area’s tight sand formations in which gas is contained in discrete lenses rather than in more accessible reservoirs found in other parts of the country.

Directional drilling is also touted by the oil and gas industry as lessening the impact on the land by requiring fewer well pads ” usually two to three acres in size ” to drill wells.

Currently, 93 percent of the wells in Garfield County are drilled directionally compared to about 30 percent of the wells in Weld County, Macke said.

Gas production in the county is expected to reach 323 billion cubic feet per day with a value of $2.2 billion in 2007. Macke said statewide production will be valued at over $11 billion this year.

Colorado stands as the sixth largest producer of gas in the county with the fifth largest gas reserves.

Gas prices in northwest Colorado are also more in line with national prices, Macke said, running about $7 per million British thermal units. “It’s slightly below the national because of the cost of getting gas out of the area.”

The Piceance Basin has historically had more gas ready for transportation than there are pipelines to carry it. However, the area has seen a proliferation of new large transmission pipelines that should make that less of a problem.

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