Trump brings optimism to Colorado gas industry | VailDaily.com

Trump brings optimism to Colorado gas industry

Alex Zorn
azorn@citizentelegram.com

Expect at least a small upturn in natural gas activity in 2017. This is a file photo of a gas operation near Battlement Mesa.

RIFLE – Industry supporters are optimistic about the future for natural gas in Western Colorado with President Donald Trump looking to boost jobs and fossil fuel production.

Industry spokesman David Ludlam expects eight rigs to be operating in the Piceance Basin by April, up from two now, as support for the Jordan Cove gas terminal combined with research published by the U.S. Geological Survey could create a boon for the next few years.

"When you talk about it in terms of the Trump administration, executive orders show he's pro-infrastructure and business of all kinds," said Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association. "I'm optimistic to see how Trump can help us expedite building the Jordan terminal.

"For socioeconomic reasons, I think Jordan Cove long-term is what the Trump administration will help us with."

“When you talk about it in terms of the Trump administration, executive orders show he’s pro-infrastructure and business of all kinds. I’m optimistic to see how Trump can help us expedite building the Jordan terminal.”David LudlamWest Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, executive director

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The Jordan Cove Energy and Pacific Connect Gas Pipeline Project would be a liquefied natural gas export terminal to be constructed in Coos Bay, Oregon, processing natural gas from throughout the region.

Republican Rep. Scott Tipton on Wednesday wrote a letter asking the Trump administration to prioritize a review of the project.

"The proposed project … would serve the dual purpose of reinvigorating natural gas production in the Rocky Mountain states and providing a needed energy resource to markets in Asia and the Pacific Rim," Tipton wrote in the letter.

Politics on the Slope

Tipton would like to see the project reviewed against the backdrop of USGS research showing dramatically higher reserves of gas in the Piceance than previously thought. In June, a report estimated reserves at 66 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 40 times more than previously thought.

"I think the congressman is feeling optimistic that under the new administration that the application will be reviewed quickly," said Liz Payne, communication director for Tipton.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in December denied a request to rehear its decision denying applications for Jordan Cove.

With Trump's advocacy for jobs and fossil fuel extraction, there is a growing optimism his administration will be more open to approving projects like Jordan Cove.

"It gives us optimism, but I think it's important to take a step back," Ludlam said. "Yes, we are glad about the letter, but for us it's always been a good project and has bipartisan support. Before the election it was endorsed by Gov. Hickenlooper, Democratic Sen. Michael Bennett, Sen. Cory Gardner, nine Democrats on the Colorado Senate and associated governments in Western Colorado."

He added that nothing about the election changed the Jordan Cove project, but where he sees the industry benefiting is that energy projects like this will be given a fair look.

"By developing resource base we are bringing all sorts of jobs to the Piceance Basin," he said. "In the short-term, without the Jordan Cove project, we see the future being bright as the industry could potentially rebound bringing in more jobs to the area. Things are already picking up, at least on the small scale."

Ludlam cited the expected increase in rigs operating within the Piceance Basin as evidence that the industry is already starting to see the beginnings of a rebound.

"Certainly this is the most optimistic we've been in years," he added.