Nov 25, 2012 (Menafn - The Pueblo Chieftain - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Oil and gas drilling activity has picked up slowly in Southeastern Colorado, but not as rapidly as in other parts of the states.
The most activity has been seen in Las Animas County, where Pioneer Natural Resources and XTO Energy are drilling for natural gas.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission lists 3,097 active oil and gas wells and has approved 85 new drilling permits in the last two years in Las Animas County.
About two-thirds of the wells in the area, geologically called the Raton Basin, are owned by Pioneer.
"The Raton Basin asset is stable as the operation's team works to maximize production and minimize costs from existing wells," said Karen Brown, Pioneer spokeswoman.
Pioneer is planning five exploratory oil wells elsewhere in Colorado next year, but concentrates its efforts in Las Animas County.
Las Animas County ranks fifth in the state in active wells, behind Weld, Garfield, Yuma and La Plata counties.
Statewide, the number of drilling rigs running, tracked on a weekly basis, has dipped from a high of nearly 138 in 2008 to less than 75 weekly in recent months. Meanwhile, natural gas production in Colorado has steady risen to about 4.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day -- triple 1995 levels.
"Increased production from fewer wells may, in part, be attributed to efforts to tweak operations to enhance production," Brown said.
Companies are getting more out of existing wells and are finding more natural gas in operations associated with oil drilling in the Niobrara formation, she added. firstname.lastname@example.org
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