By Mark Jaffe – The Denver Post – Updated: 10/23/2011 01:46:16 AM MDT
The flier announced a meeting of the Ridge West Homeowners Association to discuss oil and gas drilling — but before it was even held, Nikki Stansfield had an oil-company lease offer in her mailbox.
“My immediate reaction was ‘I can’t believe this is happening here,’ ” said Stansfield, a resident of the suburban-style Larimer County development.
Her words are echoed by property owners all along the Front Range — the scene of an oil land rush over the past three years.
Between 2008 and 2011, leasing activity in six Front Range counties — Larimer, Weld, Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and El Paso — more than doubled, with 8,100 leases filed in the 12 months ending Aug. 30, according to county
If Weld County, a traditional oil and gas area, is removed, leasing activity jumped to 2,700 leases in the 12 months ending Aug. 30, from 117 in the same period in 2008-09.
“It’s been a land grab, with everyone going out and staking their claims,” said David Tameron, a senior oil and gas analyst in Denver with Wells Fargo Securities.
Propelling the rush is the discovery of oil in the Niobrara — a geological formation sitting more than 6,000 feet below the Front Range.