Garfield County gas industry valuation up 20 percent |

Garfield County gas industry valuation up 20 percent

Phillip YatesGlenwood Springs correspondentVail CO, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado The assessed value from natural gas production and oil and gas industry property in Garfield County topped $2.23 billion last year, according to a recent tally the county assessors office submitted to the state.That is up about 20 percent from 2006, when county assessors pegged the figure at $1.86 billion.Assessors place values on property, along with natural gas production and its associated property, for the dozens of taxing jurisdictions in the county to help pinpoint the total tax bill a landowner, business owner or a natural gas company must pay.The assessed value is generally lower than the property or natural gas productions actual value.In 2007, the total assessed value of natural gas production, along with property associated at producers wellpads, was pegged at $1.75 billion for the 5,012 producing wells in Garfield County. These wells produced about 438.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2007, the assessment showed.Area companies 83 pipeline and gathering systems had an assessed value of about $209.8 million, and the 101 drilling rigs operating in the county had a value of $119 million. The value of the 1.1 million barrels of associated commercial liquids generated by natural gas production had a value of $58.2 million.The county and dozens of taxing entities coffers have swelled as energy companies move into the area to tap the natural gas boom going on in Garfield County. From 2004 to 2007, the number of permits the state has issued for natural gas wells in the county has skyrocketed by 220 percent.Garfield County Assessor John Gorman presented the assessment to county commissioners on Tuesday. During an executive session with the commissioners, he also updated them about the ongoing audit his office is conducting into three oil and gas companies gas production figures from 2002 to 2007, along with an additional project that will review all natural gas companies personal property in the county.Before he entered that session, Gorman said the three natural gas companies targeted in the audit have been providing information at a pace that is a little bit slower than we had hoped.I want to get that information ASAP, said Gorman, adding the office is making progress on their audits.Gorman, a Democrat, successfully unseated Republican incumbent Shannon Hurst last year based largely on an election campaign promise to audit energy production in Garfield County.During that election, he said the industry a chief source of revenue for many taxing districts in the county may have underpaid taxes by millions of dollars. At the time of Gormans election, energy companies took issue with his contention that they have significantly underreported gas revenues.Gorman said he understood the problems and internal challenges as well as other difficulties the three companies might face in supplying the information his office is seeking.This is a new activity for them as well, he said of his offices audit.Late last year, Gormans office signed a contract with Martindale Consultants for the company to audit natural gas production figures from EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), Williams Production and Petroleum Development Corp. His office also has another contract with Visual Lease Services to conduct a valuation of all the oil and gas industrys personal property in the county. Those include things like compressor stations, pipelines and processing plants, Gorman

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