Last week, The Motley Fool asked the question that many oil and gas industry watchers are asking – “Could the Colorado Niobrara be the next Bakken oil field?” Then, this weekend, the Greeley Tribune wrote a lengthy piece on the future of the Niobrara. The bright spotlight on the Niobrara as the next big oil play is great news for Colorado, if Colorado’s Democratic legislators can quench their undying thirst to over-regulate.
While the Niobrara isn’t producing the one million barrels of oil per day that the Bakken is, Colorado companies such as Noble Energy and Anadarko are investing billions in acreage and technology in the new oil boom here. According to The Motley Fool:
“But recent drilling results suggest the play might have potential after all. It turns out the Niobrara is spotty. The difference between a successful well and a dry hole all comes down to location, and the key to investment success in the play will come down to finding the operators with the best acreage.”
Anadarko’s Wattenberg manager, John Ford, told the Greeley Tribune that improvements in technology have helped extend the life of drilling in the area:
“Our Wattenberg horizontal program significantly prolonged the life of a field that has been producing for more than 40 years. It’s astonishing that technology can continue to enhance the value of oil and natural gas basins throughout the United States, and in the case of the Wattenberg, deliver a billion-barrel-plus field, well into its productive life.”
Next year, top players in this space, Noble Energy and Anadarko, plan to drill more than 800 wells in the Niobrara. Some analysts like Pete Stark of IHS predict that the area could contain as much as four billion barrels of oil.
All of this translates to increased prosperity for Colorado in the form of more lucrative oil and gas jobs, greater disposable income to spend in the state, and additional revenue for state coffers, among other benefits. But, the Colorado state Senate Democrats’ sharp left turn in electing extremist Sen. Morgan Carroll as Senate President could stifle the industry’s growth.
In fact, Carroll, along with Democratic Rep. Rhonda Fields, penned an op-ed in the Denver Post nearly one year ago, titled “Protect us from fracking” that used fear tactics to call for increased regulation of the oil and gas industry.
“Enshrining the status quo makes no sense. Drilling and fracking are major industrial operations. Chemicals are pumped into the ground and toxic liquids, laden with heavy metals and cancer-causing compounds, are extracted from deep within the earth. Noxious gases are emitted. Scores of giant trucks move on and off fracking sites. Diesel generators run day and night to power the operations.”