Natural gas permit numbers remain high in Garfield County |

Natural gas permit numbers remain high in Garfield County

John Colson
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Garfield County continues to outpace all other natural-gas regions in Colorado in terms of the number of drilling permits issued, according to a recent report by the county’s oil and gas department.

But the county also continues to report that activity in the gas fields remains far below its levels from earlier this decade.

Department head Judy Jordan, in her third quarter summary to the board of county commissioners, reported that Garfield County accounted for 34 percent of drilling permits issued by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Jordan’s report indicated that applications for permission to drill (APDs, in industrial lingo) shot up over the course of the summer.

The oil and gas department reviews all APDs filed with the commission that affect Garfield County, and she reported that there were 125 such applications in July, 154 in August, and 356 in September.

Jordan reported that the total number of approved drilling permits for the county over the course of the year so far came to 1,472.

Garfield County’s nearest competitor, Weld County, came in at 1,434, or 33 percent of all permits issued around the state.

The two counties historically have led the state in terms of oil and gas production. Weld boasted a total of 15,731 active wells as of September, while Garfield had fewer than half that many – 7,532 – according to Jordan’s report.

The four other counties included in Jordan’s report – Yuma, La Plata, Las Animas and Rio Blanco – ranged from about 3,600 to roughly 2,800 in descending order. The other 36 counties with oil and gas activity accounted for slightly more than 6,500 wells all together, according to her report.

Jordan projected that Garfield County is on target for a total of 2,208 permits for this year, the most since the industry peaked in 2007 with 2,888.

“Since the natural gas boom began in 2004, this year would mark the third highest in Garfield County history,” she commented.

Jordan noted that, as of Oct. 8, Garfield County had a reported 22 rigs operating within its boundaries.

Natural gas prices continued to fall in the third quarter, Jordan reported, and further “downward pressure” on prices is expected in the near future, in part due to rising production figures. She cited estimates that U.S. gas production this year will be at its highest level since 1973, and that there is approximately 74 billion cubic feet of gas in underground storage at present.

“Given these high production and storage rates, as well as soft seasonal demand,” Jordan concluded, “some of the majors [big companies] have begun shutting in wells.”

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