CBS News – December 27, 2012
(CBS News) GREELEY, Colo. – Despite rising gas prices, oil production is surging in this country. That has some predicting the U.S. could eventually overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest petroleum producer by 2020.
In the middle of a Colorado cornfield, sandwiched between cattle and farm houses, is the front line of an American oil boom. “We plan to invest over $8 billion over the next five years here, so we’re really excited,” said Mike Dickinson, who works for Noble Energy, which is doubling it’s production in Weld County.
This oil field stretches from Colorado into Wyoming. In 2008, it produced more than 83,000 barrels of oil. Yet this year it is expected to reach nearly 10 million barrels.
The technology being used is “unrecognizable today compared to what we were doing just two or three years ago,” Dickinson said.
Oil companies used to mainly drill vertical wells hitting one pool of oil. But now they are rapidly converting to horizontal wells up to a mile long, and combining them with fracking operations which splits open rocks releasing oil once considered out of reach. One drilling rig can now install multiple wells in the same location, making it more cost efficient.
A horizontal well produces seven to 10 times more oil than a vertical well. “Today we’re not running any vertical rigs and we’re running eight horizontal,” Dickinsons said, added that this is the future of the business.