By Rick Behning, PE

energyBillions of dollars have been earmarked to be spent in the Niobrara Shale in Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.  According to an article published January 4 in The Coloradoan:

“The Niobrara shale spreads across northeast Colorado, but it’s only about 400 feet thick and thousands of feet underground. Because the shale is so thin, energy companies couldn’t drill it very efficiently before horizontal drilling technology was developed in recent years. The new technology allows a single oil well to tap an underground reservoir of oil up to 12 times larger than an older vertical well, according to the Colorado Geological Survey.”

Photo from The Coloradoan library: An EOG Resources well pumps oil along Colorado Highway 14 in Western Jackson County.  EOG, a major explorer of the Niobrara formation in Weld County, is one of the biggest players in North Park. 

The exploratory wells drilled thus far, along with the new technology that provides the ability to drill the shallow shale, show enough promise to encourage both domestic and international investors to provide funding for further exploration.

This type of oil and gas drilling and exploration is not new to Northern Colorado:  the cities and counties generally have efficient permitting systems in place to support and sustain continued growth.   However, mountain communities now have the unique opportunity to learn from the front range communities that have supported oil and gas operations.  The highly volatile and seasonal tourism of mountain communities could be significantly bolstered by the solution of oil and gas drilling.  As long as environmental concerns are addressed prudently by the existing and incoming operators, this will be a huge boon to the local economies state wide.

For more information on oil and gas planning and permitting, contact or (970)353-7600.