GarCo at epicenter of O&G industry in 2014 |

GarCo at epicenter of O&G industry in 2014

Ryan Hoffman
Sound walls are erected on three sides at this drilling site to help reduce noise for Battlement Mesa residents.
Randy Essex / Post Independent |

Garfield County was one of two counties at the epicenter of a Colorado’s robust oil and gas industry that contributed $31.7 billion in total output to the state’s economy in 2014 while accounting for approximately 38,650 direct jobs, according to a report.

The report — conducted by the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder — was commissioned by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, which is the state’s leading trade group. It analyzed the industry’s economic impact throughout Colorado in 2014.

Aside from the nearly $32 billion in total economic impact and more than 38,000 jobs, the industry supported an additional 64,000 jobs and $403.5 million in property taxes across the state, according to the report.

While a total of 34 counties produced oil and 38 counties recorded production of natural gas in 2014, Garfield and Weld counties saw the bulk of new activity in Colorado.

According to the report, 80 percent of drilling permits in 2014 came from those two counties. Garfield and Weld also were the only two counties in both the top five counties for production and the top five counties for employment in 2014.

In Garfield County, 2,325 people were employed by the industry in 2014. The average salary was $80,888, which accounted for total wages of $188.1 million. Weld, Denver and Mesa counties were the only other ones in Colorado with more people employed by the oil and gas industry than in Garfield County in 2014.

The findings in the report show some growth compared with the number in a similar study conducted in 2014 for 2013. The message in that report was the oil and gas industry continued to rebound and expand following a downturn during the recession.

The most recent report came as good news to COGA, the industry group that commissioned the study.

“Clearly, even as we work through this period of lower commodity prices, the oil and gas industry’s impact on Colorado’s economy is significant,” Dan Haley, president and CEO of COGA, said in a press release. “The industry continues to provide, and support, thousands of good paying jobs in all corners of the state.”

The study does note that there are nonmarket impacts related to the industry, such as air quality and water usage, that are outside the scope of the paper. Further research, the authors wrote, would be needed to understand those impacts.

The report will likely have little influence on opponents worried about health impacts. Two groups are vying to put measures on the 2016 ballot that would restrict oil and gas operations. One of those groups, Coloradans for Community Rights, earned a small victory this past Wednesday when the state’s title board determined that the measure meets ballot requirements, with some slight rewording. The measure would give local governments the power to restrict industrial operations, including oil and gas.

Industry supporters have condemned the various ballot efforts as far reaching and extreme.

While the report for 2014 details positive economic impacts, it also notes that the news will likely not be as positive in a future annual report.

“Industry activity peaked in 2014, with drilling and employment decreasing in 2015 based on lower oil and gas prices,” according to the report. “Overall, production continued to increase through mid-2015 primarily due to new production in Weld County.”

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