U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) officials said Wednesday that western Colorado has upwards of 40 times more natural gas than previously believed, making it the second largest natural gas producing formation in the U.S.
The Mancos Shale formation in Colorado’s Piceance Basin, located in the western section of Colorado, nestles nearly 70 trillion (66.3 trillion) cubic feet of gas. This marks a massive uptick from the 1.6 trillion cubic feet estimated in 2003, research shows.
A trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to the U.S. Energy Department, is enough to heat 15 million homes for a year — 66. 3 trillion cubic feet of gas, therefore, is capable of warming hundreds of millions of homes.
Unfortunately for natural gas producers in the state, low oil prices are making it difficult for developers to realize the Mancos Shale’s opportunities. David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, told reporters prices are simply too low to spur a boom. He added that if prices reached $3.50 per one million British Thermal Units, then companies would likely begin drilling, Ludlam said.
Much of the Mancos Shale formation is regulated by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), therefore getting approval to drill is often more difficult than getting private landowners to agree, Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, told reporters.
“I hope with this reassessment the government understands that indeed the Mancos Shale is an important formation that should be developed responsibly,” Sgamma said.
The Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, according to the USGS, has 84 trillion cubic feet of gas and could make the Mancos Shale the second largest natural gas producing formation in the country.
The oil production in The Centennial State tipped dramatically upward from 2004 to 2014, as Colorado’s natural gas output leaped by 51 percent during that period of time, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
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