Gas industry is still in a slump, prices are lowest in a decade |

Gas industry is still in a slump, prices are lowest in a decade

John ColsonPost Independent Aspen, CO Colorado

RIFLE, Colo. – There are at least 18 gas drilling rigs currently operating in Garfield County, and 64 around the state of Colorado, according to a report by a county official.Kirby Wynn, oil and gas liaison for the county, told members of the county’s Energy Advisory Board (EAB) on Thursday that the low number of rigs is a sign that the industry remains in a slump. In the first quarter of 2008 there were as many as 102 rigs operating in the county.The gas industry this week saw the price of natural gas drop to its lowest price in more than a decade, to barely over $2 per thousand cubic feet, according to a report by The Associated Press.The price had gotten as high as $14 to $15 per thousand cubic feet prior to the recession in 2008.The AP reported last week that the price of natural gas already has plummeted by 30 percent this year, due to a production boom that has kept stockpiles well above normal levels.Wynn, addressing the EAB meeting at the Rifle Branch Library, said the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) approved 329 drilling permits in Garfield County in February and March.Wynn told members of the county’s EAB on Thursday that an estimated 83 gas wells have been started in Garfield County so far in 2012.Garfield County continues to be the second-most drilled county in the state, Wynn added, with approximately 28 percent of all approved well permits.Garfield County lags behind only Weld County, in the northeastern quadrant of the state, which continues to see nearly 50 percent of Colorado’s natural gas drilling activity, Wynn reported.At the EAB meeting, representatives of several energy companies confirmed Wynn’s analysis of the current state of the industry.The Bill Barrett Co., which has been a player in Garfield County’s Piceance Basin gas fields for decades, has three rigs currently operating. The company expects to pull one of those rigs out of operation soon, according to a report from company spokesman Doug Dennison.Chevron USA has no drilling rigs in operation right now, according to company representative Cary Baird.But, she said, the company continues to work on existing wells with “workover” rigs, which are rigs used to re-establish the flow of gas and oil if it slows down for some reason.Antero Resources, another operator in the county, currently has two drilling rigs, one workover rig and a completions crew performing hydraulic fracturing, said EAB Chairman Brent Buss.Buss was speaking for Antero’s local official, Jon Black, who was not at the meeting but provided information to Buss.Buss also presented an update for EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), saying the company is running seven drilling rigs, seven workover rigs and has three crews doing completion work.EnCana’s usual representative, Sher Long, was not at the meeting. She, too, provided information to Buss to share with the EAB members.The WPX Energy Co., formerly Williams Production RMT, has five drilling rigs working in the county, and plans to drill several hundred wells in 2012, according to a company representative.And Sean Norris of the OXY Oil & Gas Corp. said his company still has “a few rigs” drilling wells in the Cascade Creek area north of

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