Mountain States

Leading Business Group Says Fracking Provides “Substantial Economic Benefits” For Colorado

A new report from one of Colorado’s leading business and economic development organizations shows that hydraulic fracturing has been a driving force behind Colorado’s growing economy.

The Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation (Metro Denver EDC) found that with nearly 50,000 people directly employed in the sector, Colorado ranked sixth in the nation for jobs with a workforce that represents nearly three percent of the total employment in the fossil fuels industry nationwide. Economists estimate that 2,340 fossil fuels related companies operated in the state in 2015 and the report specifically credits hydraulic fracturing for driving that job growth and investment. From the report:

“Like many other recent oil and gas plays in the nation, technological advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques allow for greater production in the Niobrara shale formation within the Denver-Julesburg Basin along the Front Range. These advances have drawn significant attention from oil and gas companies, providing substantial economic benefits including capital investment, high-wage job creation, and export possibilities.”

The authors attribute Colorado’s position as a “powerhouse producer” to an abundance of natural resources coupled with a “large pool of talented, well-educated and highly skilled workers.” And according to the report, the state is well poised to continue as a leader in shale development. From the report:

“Colorado’s Niobrara shale formation—located in northeast Colorado’s rich Denver-Julesburg Basin (DJ Basin) and extending into parts of adjacent Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas—has led to substantial economic benefits including job creation, infrastructure development, export possibilities, and technological development. The 7,000-foot-deep geographic layer could hold more than 4 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves.”

Researchers also found that the state has been rising in the rankings in terms of production as well. Highlights from the report include:

  • Natural Gas – Colorado ranked sixth among natural-gas producing states, accounting for 6.3 percent of U.S. natural gas production.
  • Oil – Colorado ranked as the nation’s seventh-largest oil producer in 2014, producing a record 94.4 million barrels of crude oil. Colorado ranked seventh in the number of active rotary rigs as of October 2015, and Colorado had the seventh-highest proven oil reserves in the nation totaling 1,170 million barrels in 2013.

The analysis sheds further light on the implications of national activist organizations that are targeting the state with a series of job-killing ballot initiatives. The political agenda these groups are seeking to impose would not only threaten Colorado’s economy, but would have the effect of sidelining a significant portion of our nation’s energy reserves and employment.

Of course, this analysis is just the latest to show how important shale development is to Colorado’s economy. Simply put, without the oil and gas industry, Colorado’s economists would be telling a very different story.


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