Energy Blend: Oil, gas production at 10-year low in Moffat County
Sluggish oil and natural gas production in Moffat County could deliver the worst year in a decade.
According to data from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, by July 2018, production was less than half the total for 2017, and the number of producing wells had fallen from more than 700 in January to only 150 in July. Production for the year is also trending below amounts for each of the previous 10 years, from 2008 to 2018.
The peak of natural gas production in Moffat County, as for most of the state, was in 2008, before prices for natural gas fell on the global commodities market.
That year, according to COGCC data, more than 20,000,000 MCF (thousands of cubic feet) of natural gas were locally produced. As natural gas prices were falling, global oil prices had risen, and in 2013, oil production peaked in Moffat County at nearly 500,000 barrels.
Sales of natural gas produced in Moffat County also appeared to slow in July 2018, with about a third, or 20,244 MCF of the total amount of natural gas produced — about 66,238 MCF — in the county in July was burned by flaring. This compares to the 39,871 MCF sold. Natural gas is often a byproduct of oil production and may be burned off in the flare for the oil well without equipment to capture, store, and sell natural gas.
The trend in Moffat County mirrored a decrease in production across the state. Colorado law requires oil and natural gas producers to deliver monthly reports on each well’s production.
The number of producing wells in Garfield County dropped from 13,332 in January to 1,677 in July. Rio Blanco County went from 4,177 producing wells to 127 producing wells. Routt County started the year with 38 producing wells and ended July with 20 producing wells. And, in Weld County, thought to be one of the most productive areas on the Front Range, the number of producing wells dropped from 25,992 in January to a mere 1,221 in July.
Even so, Colorado continues to be among the top states. In June 2018, the state production of crude oil — according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration — trailed Texas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, New Mexico, California, Alaska, and Federal Reserves of the Gulf Coast, but was almost twice the number of barrels produced in Wyoming.
No complaints were filed against operators in 2017 or through the end of August 2018.
Two spills, or releases, from wells operating in Moffat County were reported to COGCC in 2018. Wexpro investigated a release in March and, in April, identified the point of origin as a well in the Wilson area. In August, a well formerly operated by Texaco in the Moffat Dome near Hamilton was reported for a release that appeared to result from older, historic flow lines, as there are several older plugged and abandoned wells and flowlines in the vicinity. Four operators had remediation plans primarily associated with pit cleanup.
Seven new drilling permits were approved by August 2018 for wells in Moffat County, compared to 80 permits approved in Rio Blanco County, nearly 500 in Garfield County, and more than 1,900 in Weld County during the same time period. No new wells were permitted in Routt County from January to July 2018.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.