DENVER (AP) — Drilling applications and investments by oil and gas companies are surging in Colorado after crude prices partially rebounded from their collapse in recent years, pushing the industry deeper into residential communities largely unaccustomed to drilling.
Major companies operating in the Denver-Julesburg Basin expect to more than double the number of oil and gas drilling rigs in Colorado, from 10 last year to 21 in 2017, The Denver Post reported Sunday (http://dpo.st/2o6s5qv ).
The Denver-Julesburg Basin is the source of more than 90 percent of the oil produced in Colorado and much of the states’ natural gas production.
Applications to drill are up in Adams, Arapahoe and Larimer Counties and southwestern Weld County. Meanwhile, seven of the largest companies operating in central and eastern Colorado plan to spend almost $4 billion this year, up from $2.3 billion for 2016.
“The economics in the (Denver-Julesburg) Basin are some of the best in the U.S.,” said Taylor Cavey, an energy analyst with S&P Global Platts in Denver. “It feels like the producers are picking up where they left off. There is a resurgence from recent lows in investment.”
Another drop in oil prices could dampen or derail the upswing in activity, experts say. In the meantime, conflicts with homeowners already are emerging as companies push into residential areas.
Extraction Oil and Gas of Denver has built a strategy around buying up holdings located near populated areas that other producers viewed as too complicated to develop, including in Boulder and Broomfield counties, where opposition to drilling remains strong.
Extraction had wanted to start drilling this year near populated areas. But residents fought back to ensure the drilling occurred as far away from their homes as possible and that the effects were reduced.
“I’m not sure they were thinking about the community and how much push back they were going to get,” said Ann Marie Byers, a resident of the Wildgrass neighborhood in Broomfield. She is a member of a community task force studying Extraction’s proposal to locate 139 wells near several residential neighborhoods.
Extraction has said it plans to spend upward of $775 million to drill wells in the Denver-Julesburg Basin. That’s up from $317.5 million spent by the company in 2016.
Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com