Uptick likely in oil and gas activity in 2017
After a few down years, the oil and gas industry is expecting an uptick in activity in Garfield County in 2017.
At the Northwest Oil and Gas Forum earlier this month, Garfield County oil and gas liaison Kirby Wynn said that with 141 natural gas wells drilled as of July 3, Garfield County has nearly matched last year’s numbers. In all of 2016, 147 natural gas wells were drilled in the county.
“We should have more well activity this year compared to last year is what it looks like,” he said.
Nita Smith with Community Counts said that as of August 2017, Garfield County has five rigs in operation compared with three rigs at this time last year.
“There a definite uptick in activity. It’s nothing major, but we have picked up,” she added.
It is still too early to tell if this increase in oil and gas activity will result in an increase in production, but West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association Executive Director David Ludlam remains optimistic.
While production numbers aren’t certain, Ludlam did say that “based on what we are seeing going to gas plants, the consensus is that we will see increased production in 2017.”
Natural gas production and sales have declined each year in Garfield County since 2012, according to data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Natural gas production is critical to employment and tax receipts in the county. In 2016, oil and gas production accounted for 53.5 percent of the assessed value distribution in the county — more than $1 billion in assessed valuation.
Oil and gas operators were some of the top taxpayers in the county in 2016 with companies including Ursa Resources, Vanguard Operating LLC and Encana paying nearly $3 million in taxes. TEP Rocky Mountain LLC was the biggest taxpayer in the county, paying nearly $19 million.
Garfield County received more than $31 million from energy impact grants from July 1, 2008, to Feb. 2, 2017, as a result of the natural gas activity in the area, according to information from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
This money goes into schools and fire stations in neighborhoods most impacted by the activity, as Ludlam explained.
Severance taxes as well as grants from the Federal Mineral Leasing District helped fund millions into several projects throughout Garfield County, including more than $1 million dollars for the Rifle Water Storage Tank Replacement.
According to DOLA, Garfield County is one of six counties in the state to receive a score of 9 or higher on the Energy/Mineral Impact Assistance Fund Competitive Grants Impact Score. As such Garfield County had more than $4 million directly distributed to the county from oil and gas activity in 2016.
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The BLM will conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed wells needed to begin the NEPA process on the larger quarry expansion.