Rig count grows slightly

Thirty-five rigs now are operating in the Piceance Basin as Colorado is poised to issue 6,500 permits to drill this year, officials said.

“We continue to have a pretty consistent high level of activity at this point,” Thom Kerr, permitting manager for the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission said today during a meeting of the commission.

Williams dominates the drilling activity in the Piceance Basin, with a dozen rigs operating there, followed by EnCana, with seven.

The rig count is the highest it’s been since second quarter of 2009, when 46 rigs were operating, but well below the 87 that were drilling in the basin in the first quarter of 2009, industry analyst Carter Marthies noted.

Those optimistic notes aside, Commissioner Mark Cutright said Colorado’s recovery is the most stunted of those in the intermountain states.

“I don’t want to paint a rosy picture for the oil and gas industry,” Cutright said. “There’s been layoffs that have been extreme in the state and companies still have not recovered in the state of Colorado.”

Commission director David Neslin said there is no question that low gas prices continue to make for a tough business environment.

That’s particularly the case for smaller companies operating in western Colorado, where there’s more production of gas than oil, which is getting better prices, Neslin said.


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