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As public outcry grows, oil and gas is booming in Colorado

Hundreds of millions being spent in DJ Basin
Posted at 7:18 PM, Jan 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-30 21:19:16-05

DENVER -- Known as one of the sleepiest shale corners in the country, the Denver-Julesberg Basin is awakening and so too is the public outcry.

"Economics of drilling here are matched hardly anywhere else in the world," Will Fleckenstein, an expert on unconventional drilling with the Colorado School of Mines, said.

"Never in my wildest nightmares could have I had imagined or fathomed that we think of drilling like the Beverly Hillbillies," Boulder County resident Marcia Kohler said at a recent public hearing.

Fleckenstein said Colorado has become one of the leading states for production as a result.

"It's amazing to think about how much oil and gas is being produced out of Denver," he said.

However, Fleckenstein explained it hasn't always been that way. The key to the boom in the DJ Basin, he said, is new technology known as horizontal drilling or fracking.

"That amount of oil that's there might be ten times," Fleckenstein said. "The wells are going to get longer and longer, and the drilling is not very complex here so you're in a real sweet spot."

The DJ Basin is made up of tight, oil-rich shale rock and stretches from eastern Colorado to just north of Denver. The area includes Broomfield, Boulder County, and Lafayette -- communities known for being unfriendly to big oil.

"This is insane we have eagles nesting in our backyard," Kohler said.

Despite that growing opposition, the numbers show oil and gas is winning.

Extraction Oil and Gas, Anadarko Petroleum, and PDC Energy each plan to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the DJ Basin this year and drill hundreds of wells from Broomfield to Boulder County.

"As fracking is continues and gets a history in Colorado I think people are going to see a little bit better of an understanding about it," Fleckenstein said.

An oil boom, experts don't see slowing down anytime soon in Colorado.

"The rock is a tremendous resource, there's a lot of it," Fleckenstein explained.