WPX Energy to scale back drilling rigs in Piceance

WPX Energy will run three drill rigs this year, including one exploring the rich Niobrara shale in the Piceance Basin, the company said Thursday.

In all, WPX said it will spend $200 million to $225 million in Western Slope operations.

The 2015 plan “reflects the realities of the downturn in commodity prices for both oil and natural gas,” the company said in its annual announcement, which came a day after Halliburton Inc. announced it was reducing its global work force by about 5,000 jobs. There was no announcement as to the effect of the cuts on operations in western Colorado.

The beginning of 2015 saw a sharp drop in the price of oil and natural gas that was aimed in large part by foreign suppliers at shale production in the United States.

Should other suppliers cut back on production, edging prices upward, “We’ll stay primed to accelerate development, even as we take appropriate steps to respond to current prices,” WPX CEO Rick Muncrief said.

WPX last year at this time said it planned to run seven rigs in the Piceance, though none was earmarked for Niobrara operations, but the company did seismic work in the Piceance Valley.

Companywide, WPX said its plans called for “roughly half the amount we invested last year on drilling, completions, land purchases and exploration.”

In 2014, WPX planned to spend $1.5 billion in investments and running an average of 16 rigs across all of its operating areas in Colorado, New Mexico and North Dakota.

“For 2015, we are executing a plan to invest about $725 million and run about six rigs across our operations — half of which are slated for western Colorado,” the company said.


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