Has Colorado’s Rig Count Hit Bottom?

Colorado Rig Count Chart - 2000 - 2016

Colorado Rig Count Chart – 2000 – 2016 – Niobrara News

With all the recent talk of OPEC and Russia coming to an agreement on limiting oil production to stabilize crude oil prices at a meeting in Algeria on September 26-28, 2016, one wonders how the outcome will affect activity in the Niobrara and other plays in Colorado.

We have provided a chart of the Colorado rig count from 2000 to September 2016 that shows the average rig count per month during that period of time.  The data was tabulated from the Baker Hughes Rig Count site from their Rigs by State spreadsheet.

Some key markers that may have an influence on the Colorado rig count have been entered on the chart for reference.  Markers such as the date of the 2008 stock market crash, the date of the JAKE well discovery, the beginning of the latest oil price slide, and the recent lowest price of West Texas International are most likely important drivers of oil activities in Colorado.

Historically, it would appear the the current state rig count sits very close to where it was sixteen years ago in 2000, all before the stock market crash and the shale oil phenomenon.

Only recently has there been a slight upturn in the rig count trend that started down in the middle of 2014.  Is this just a slight bounce, or a recovery to more healthy rig count levels? Only time will tell, but any price positive agreement on supply limitations from OPEC and other oil producing nations will no doubt contribute to a larger Colorado rig count.

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Top producers invest in west Texas but insist Colorado’s D-J Basin still has room to run

EIA Map Showing 7 most prominent shale plays

EIA Map Showing 7 most prominent shale plays

Drilling in Colorado is funding exploration in the Permian Basin

By ALDO SVALDI – The Denver Post – August 28, 2016

PDC Energy last week said it plans to invest $1.5 billion in the Delaware Basin in west Texas — money it won’t have available to boost production in the Denver-Julesburg Basin northeast of Denver.

Late last month, Encana Oil & Gas completed a $900 million sale of its holdings in the D-J Basin to Crestone Peak Resources, ending a long-running commitment.

PDC Energy and Encana were the basin’s fourth- and third-largest producers. Their moves, one a diversion and the other a divorce, raise the question of whether more Colorado petroleum producers will seek their future fulfillment in other fields.

Executives with Noble Energy, Anadarko Petroleum and Whiting Petroleum — three other big players in the D-J’s Wattenberg Field — offered reassurances Thursday of their commitment to Colorado’s most prolific petroleum play.

“It is hard to not see it being a key, core area where we invest money,” Noble Energy chairman, president and CEO Dave Stover said during the Rocky Mountain Energy Summit in Denver.

“We are always looking at our core basins, and we are still committed to the D-J,” Craig Walters, vice president of Wattenberg operations for Anadarko, said in a separate interview.

Anadarko, based in The Woodlands, Texas, and Noble, based in Houston, are the top two producers in the D-J Basin. But they are also active in the Delaware Basin, a subset of the larger Permian Basin of west Texas.

“Economically, they are very competitive,” Stover said of the two areas.

When oil prices started falling sharply in late 2014 and into 2015, Anadarko, Noble and Whiting cut their capital budgets but directed a larger share of what remained into the D-J Basin. Noble directs about 40 percent of its capital investment to the D-J.

Continue reading story at The Denver Post

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Bill Barrett Corp. to begin drilling in Denver-Julesburg Basin again

Bill_Barrett_LogoBy ALDO SVALDI – Denver Post – August 15, 2016

Denver-based Bill Barrett Corp. will revive its horizontal drilling program in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, with plans to bring a dozen new wells into production by the first quarter of next year.

Company president and CEO Scot Woodall, in a presentation at EnerCom’s The Oil and Gas Conference in Denver Monday, said the company has found a way to drill wells at nearly half the cost and in half the time versus 2014.

Strong hedging contracts will permit the company to sell up to 70 percent of its expected oil production for the remainder of the year at $72.57 a barrel, a significant premium to the $45 a barrel that a barrel of West Texas intermediate crude currently commands.

Continue reading article at The Denver Post

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Land-use hearings can frustrate residents, but officials have multiple factors to consider

weld_co_sealCatherine Sweeney – The Tribune – August 6, 2016

Rockpick’s Take: Excellent article on how to present your concerns to commissioners on land use decisions

For the past few years, residents such as Maydean Worley have stormed out of Greeley and Weld County hearing rooms.

“We don’t have a democracy,” Worley yelled at the Weld County commissioners as she left a July meeting before it ended.

Extraction Oil and Gas proposed a well site near Bella Romero Academy’s 4-8 campus, near Cherry Avenue and 24th Street, east of Greeley. Dozens of residents turned out, some of them begging the commissioners to deny the project permission. Some of them cried.

“This is madness,” another resident bellowed as he ended his speech.

The commissioners unanimously approved the project.

From oil and gas development to asphalt production, dozens of industrial projects dot the county, as Weld’s economy continues to rely on those industries to fill jobs and tax coffers. A few of them are located near neighborhoods, both because the areas were valued by companies and because a huge population growth has put more people in Weld.

Before the oil and gas boom, residents came to these hearings to fight apartment complexes and shopping centers because of traffic, light and noise. Now they’re fighting industrial projects for many of the same reasons, although now they also express fears about their health and safety. They yell, they cry and sometimes they beg.

And almost every time, they lose.


Land-use policy is a way local governments help lay out a city. It’s complicated, labor intensive and vital to residents. But most of the time, it gets no attention because it’s also boring.

But for what usually amounts to a single, crucial time in a resident’s life, land-use policy isn’t boring. It’s a fight.

Continue reading article at The Tribune

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Polis donates $25K to group pushing oil, gas amendment

Colorado_State_SealAssociated Press, August 3rd, 2016

DENVER (AP) — Democratic Rep. Jared Polis has given $25,000 to a group pushing to allow local government more say over energy production.

Polis gave the money to Yes for Local Control Over Oil and Gas, according to campaign finance disclosures posted Monday. The group supports a ballot measure to amend the state constitution to give local governments more control over oil and gas production.

The measure isn’t necessarily going to be on Colorado ballots. The group faces a deadline Monday to turn in some 98,000 signatures to get the amendment before voters.

The group faces a steep financial disadvantage if the measure makes ballots. An industry group has raised $13.4 million to oppose it. Energy producers say the change would unduly chill an industry currently regulated by the state.

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Highlands Natural acquires Colorado shale opportunity

Picture of ConocoPhillips Drill Rig drilling in the Niobrara Play - Image Credit ConocoPhillps

Picture of ConocoPhillips Drill Rig drilling in the Niobrara Play – Image Credit ConocoPhillps

procactivinvestors July 25, 2016

Highlands Natural Resources Plc (LON:HNR) has struck a deal to add another new project to its portfolio, acquiring shale acreage in Colorado.

The proposed transaction sees the company secure 100% of a project starting, where it would initially drill as many as six horizontal wells targeting the Niobrara shale.

It would pay a total of US$500,000 in cash (US$250,000 initially) and will give the seller royalties over future revenues. After royalties to both the seller and the State of Colorado the company will be left with 80% revenues from the project.

Drilling could start before the end of 2016, as HNR has revealed that talks are already underway with several industry partners for joint financing and development.

The project is bordered by acreage that’s already been developed by ConoccoPhilips, which has had nearby wells that have produced some 50,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil in aggregate over their first six months.

As such, these nearby ConoccoPhilips wells are among the top 12% of Niobrara shale wells, HNR highlighted. It added that Niobrara, producing some 371,000 bopd (according to July 2016 data), us ranked as the United States’ fourth largest tight oil play.

Continue reading story at proactiveinvestors

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Drilling setbacks carry big price tag for Colorado economy

University_of_Colorado_LogoBy ALDO SVALDI – Denver Post – July 14, 2016

Colorado could forego 54,000 jobs and $7.1 billion in economic activity over the next 5 years if voters approve a ballot measure to prevent drilling for oil and gas within 2,500 feet of existing structures and sensitive areas, according to a University of Colorado analysis released Thursday.

Initiative 78, should it win this November, would put about 90 percent of the state off limits to oil and gas drilling, according to an analysis in May from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

The university’s Business Research Division, using a sophisticated computer model called REMI, estimated losses of 104,000 jobs and $14.5 billion in economic activity over a longer 15-year period based on those restrictions.

“Companies simply would not be able to operate here. This initiative, were it to pass, would usher in the probable demise of the oil and gas industry in Colorado,” Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. CEO Tom Clark said in a statement.

Continue reading article at The Denver Post

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Colorado firewater: mostly natural, industry leaks seldom to blame, CU study finds

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig - Image Credit - Encana Inc.

DJ Basin Oil Drilling Rig – Image Credit – Encana Inc.

By Bruce Finley – Denver Post – July 11, 2016

95 percent of methane gas came from naturally occurring microbial processes, often underground coal seams, usually not oil and gas industry

Some Coloradans can light their water on fire: methane natural gas has penetrated groundwater at 64 percent of sites state regulators tested since 1988 in the northeastern part of the state, University of Colorado researchers have found.

But more than 95 percent of this gas came from naturally occurring microbial processes, often near shallow underground coal seams — not the oil and gas industry.

Methane-tainted groundwater can lead to flammable drinking water trickling from household taps.

The CU study — funded by the National Science Foundation and based on an analysis of Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission records — concluded that the industrial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is not a primary cause of methane contamination of groundwater.

Continue reading story at The Denver Post

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