Oil & Gas: Billions of barrels, thanks to fracturing

The oil and natural-gas business is expected to see even more growth in Northern Colorado in 2013 as key producers ramp up their investments in the Denver-Julesburg Basin.

Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., for one, will invest more than $1 billion in Northern Colorado, and the company expects increased production next year, spokeswoman Robin Olsen said.

“That’s exciting news for the communities where we operate, especially Weld County,” Olsen said. “It means continued investment growth, strong employment and obviously the economic activity and tax revenue.”

The company also will build a 50,000-square-foot office building in Platteville next summer that will house around 150 employees. Additionally, Anadarko is expected to pay a large amount of taxes in the coming year after contributing $52 million in property taxes for the 2011 tax-year.

“That number will definitely increase and possibly double this year,” Olsen said.

Anadarko recently increased its estimate of how much oil and natural-gas is recoverable in the Wattenberg field to a new range of 1 billion to 1.5 billion barrels of oil-equivalent. The company previously estimated that its reserves in Northern Colorado oil and gas field amounted to between 500 million and 1.5 billion barrels of oil-equivalent.

Meanwhile, Houston-based Noble Energy Inc. plans to invest $1.7 billion in the D.J. Basin to accelerate a program that involves drilling 300 horizontal wells, including 150 in Northern Colorado.

Statewide, employment in the natural resources and mining industry grew by 10 percent this year to reach a total of 30,700 employees, and it could increase by another 1,000 jobs next year, according to the University of Colorado Leeds School of Business 2013 Economic Outlook.

In Northern Colorado, the industry could face challenges from stricter regulations, such as proposals for greater spacing between wells and buildings and new rules on groundwater testing.

None of that will happen, however, without a fight.

“We think that no matter which party controls the legislature, that good public policy can be achieved,´ said Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, an industry lobbying group. “Certainly there are some bills from last year that were proposed that we anticipate could come back, but it’s going to be our job to educate legislators from both parties about what opportunities the industry presents.”

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