Gas boom growing in GarCo |

Gas boom growing in GarCo

Natural gas is a multibillion-dollar industry in Colorado, and Garfield County continues to carve out a bigger and bigger share of the spoils.Colorado’s natural gas industry was worth $7 billion in 2004, up from $5 billion in 2003, said Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission director Brian Macke. It’s expected to climb to $8 billion in 2005.The county is quickly catching up to the state’s biggest producer, Weld County, Macke said at the Northwest Oil and Gas Forum in Rifle Thursday.With natural gas drilling falling off in Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, activity has picked up pace in Colorado. More and bigger pipelines, and the high volume of available natural gas has also added to the growth in production.Well drilling permits hit an all-time high at 2,917 last year in the state, Macke said, surpassing the previous high set in 1981 at 2,378 permits issued.”We’ll see a continuation (of activity) with prices encouraging drilling activity,” he said.Weld County is still the most active county for natural gas drilling, with 28.5 percent of drilling in the state, Macke said. Garfield is a close second at 27.3 percent, with 796 permits granted in 2004, a “dramatic increase” over 2003, which saw 560 drilling permits.A former focal point for drilling, La Plata County, is dropping off, Macke said, and last year had only 5 percent of statewide drilling.In 2004, Garfield County produced 6 million cubic feet per day of natural gas, which amounted to about 20 percent of gas production statewide, Macke said.Drilling activity drives gas production, and the number of rigs operating in the state increased by 50 percent last year, Macke said.”Garfield County has 50 percent of the active drill rigs in the state,” he added.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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