Garco remains at forefront of gas activity | AspenTimes.com

Garco remains at forefront of gas activity

Donna Gray
Glenwood Springs correspondent

RIFLE ” High natural gas prices continue to spark development activity in Garfield County. According to Brian Macke, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, who spoke to the Northwest Oil and Gas Forum in Rifle Thursday, gas prices have stayed at $5 per million British Thermal Units this week, “which is two to three times higher than a few years ago.”

Colorado, which now stands as the sixth biggest producer of natural gas in the country, will see an estimated 5,440 drilling permits issued this year, almost double from 2004, Macke said.

Most of gas development in the Piceance Basin – a gas-rich area extending across much of northwest Colorado – has been in Garfield County, Macke said. The county will likely see about 1,600 well drilling permits issued in 2006, giving it 30 percent of the gas activity in the state. The DJ Basin, extending from north of Denver to Greeley, still has the highest number of producing wells, 11,761, but has a 23 percent share of current gas activity. By comparison, Garfield County has 3,437 active wells.

Gas development in neighboring counties is also on the rise. An estimated 275 drilling permits will be issued for Mesa County this year, as well as 140 in Moffat County and 400 in Rio Blanco. COGCC previously underestimated future development in those counties. This time last year, for example, COGCC estimated Rio Blanco would see about 100 drilling permits.

“Production is on a significant incline,” this year, Macke said. Colorado will produce approximately 3.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day this year. The gas is valued at $10 billion. “That’s doubled in the last three years and quadrupled in the last four to five years,” Macke said.

Garfield County will produce about 325 billion cubic feet of gas this year, with a production value of $2.2 billion.