Area production helps state rank 7th in energy

Western Colorado oil and gas and coal operations contributed significantly to Colorado ranking seventh nationally in overall energy production in 2015.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently said the state accounted for a total of 3.23 quadrillion (thousand trillion) British thermal units of energy production.

Texas led the country with more than 18 quadrillion Btu of production, followed by Wyoming, with 9 quadrillion Btu, and Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Oklahoma and North Dakota.

Natural gas accounted for about 2 quadrillion Btu of Colorado’s total output in 2015. The EIA says the state’s marketed gas production totaled about 1.7 trillion cubic feet that year, sixth place nationally.

A decent chunk of that came from western Colorado’s Piceance Basin. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission data shows that in Garfield County alone in 2015, companies sold 547 billion cubic feet of gas, just ahead of Weld County’s 545 bcf in gas sales.

Last year gas sales in Garfield County fell to 488 bcf, while Weld, which currently leads the state in drilling activity, saw sales rise to 633 bcf.

Weld County also figured heavily in Colorado accounting for 722 trillion Btu of crude oil production in 2015, according to EIA data. The state produced about 126 million barrels that year — seventh nationally — and the commission says about 109 million barrels came from Weld County. Garfield County accounted for about 1.7 million barrels.

The EIA says Colorado also produced about 404 trillion Btu worth of coal in 2015, and 120 trillion Btu of renewable energy.

Almost all of the nearly 19 million tons of coal that Colorado produced in 2015 came from western Colorado, according to Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety data. Arch Coal’s West Elk Mine in Gunnison County and Peabody Energy’s Foidel Creek Mine in Routt County were responsible for about half of that production.

Colorado coal production slipped considerably last year, to 12.8 million tons, as both Peabody and Arch Coal went through bankruptcy proceedings arising from market and regulatory challenges facing the industry.

While the EIA says Colorado ranked 11th nationally in coal production in 2015, its output was a mere sliver of production in states like West Virginia, Kentucky and particularly Wyoming. The Cowboy State alone produced more than 375 million tons.

Colorado’s energy production in 2015 was more than twice the 1.5 quadrillion Btu it consumed that year. It was one of 12 states to produce more than it consumed, the EIA says.

While Texas is the top-producing state in the county, it’s also the largest consumer, at 13 quadrillion Btu.

Colorado ranked 34th per capita in consumption, at 272 million Btu. New York had the lowest per-capita consumption, at 189 million Btu, and Vermont was lowest in overall consumption at 132 trillion Btu.


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