Garfield County gas drilling predicted to stay flat |

Garfield County gas drilling predicted to stay flat

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – The level of well-drilling activity in Garfield County’s gas fields remains essentially flat and will be like that for a while, industry representatives reported this week.

“Most of us are status quo, for the foreseeable future,” said Sher Long of EnCana, speaking at the Jan. 7 meeting of the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board.

Long is one of about a dozen industry reps who serve on the board, which acts as a liaison between the industry, the Garfield County government and the public.

Her statement came in response to a question by advisory board member Art Riddile, representing the Town of New Castle, who wanted to know if reports of a pending revitalization of the industry are true.

“It’s more of a proceeding with caution,” agreed Jon Black of Antero Resources. “Ultimately, it’s a matter of economics.”

Long conceded that “there are a few new rigs coming in,” but told Riddile and the rest of the board, “What I would expect to see in 2010 is, keeping the ship steady.”

While drilling activity might increase somewhat, she said, it is likely to be “a much flatter rise than you have seen in the past.”

Judy Jordan, liaison to the oil and gas industry for Garfield County, told the board that in August of 2008, there were at least 76 rigs operating in Garfield County. Today, she estimated, the number has shrunk to a dozen or 14.

Mike Suek of Marathon Oil said the industry is wary of stepping up its activities too quickly, because, “As an industry, we’re pretty horrible at predicting oil and gas prices.”

It was noted that, while drilling activity is stagnant, gas production remains at relatively high volumes, as does the number of gas drilling permits the industry is seeking.

According to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website, Garfield County produced more than 390 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas through the month of October 2009, compared to more than 520 bcf for all of 2008, according to the Department of Natural Resources.

The number of well permits issued in Garfield County in 2009, according to the commission, was 1,981, compared to 2,888 issued in 2008.

The county currently is host to approximately 6,800 “active” gas wells, according to the commission, a classification that refers to wells that have been essentially completed and either are producing gas or are ready to do so.

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