FORT LUPTON — Oil and gas drillers have bought at least 500 million gallons of water this year from cities for use in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” along Colorado’s Front Range.
Now they need more.
It’s the only way they’ll be able to sink thousands of new wells into the Niobrara formation that — if announcements last week by Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp?. are correct — contains about 1 billion barrels of oil.
Each well drilled requires 1 million to 5 million gallons of water, and more when they are refracked.
Drillers “may need more water than we have,” said John McGee, water manager for the city of Loveland, which has leased municipal water.
In Fort Lupton, tanker trucks tap hydrants to fill up. It’s the same in Greeley, Frederick, Firestone and other communities amid the expanding oil fields north of Denver.
The trucks haul the water to rigs, where fracking crews mix it with sand and chemicals and pump it thousands of feet underground to release oil and gas.