Colorado ranked worst for oil investment

Colorado is the least attractive region for oil and gas investment, according to a recent study. The state’s new oil and gas rules allegedly have petroleum companies looking at drilling elsewhere.

The Fraser Institute, an independent think tank, interviewed oil and gas executives all over the world before preparing its annual “Global Petroleum Survey.” The study gauges and ranks the “barriers to investment” in each of the world’s 143 oil and gas producing regions. Based on the research, Colorado tumbled to the bottom of the list, ranking 81st in the world and as the worst place to do oil and gas business in the United States. Interestingly, Colorado was No. 1 in the rankings just two years ago. Gerry Angevine, Fraser Institute senior economist, blamed the state’s newly adopted oil and gas regulations for the fall.

“In recent years, Colorado legislators have introduced a swath of new environmental regulations for the petroleum industry. Now, the industry views Colorado as the worst state for investment, and companies are looking to other areas,” he said.

Signed into law earlier this year, the new rules seek to provide additional protection for wildlife, environment and public health. Among other things, they bring additional agencies into the permitting process and require additional disclosure of drilling chemicals.  

“This study demonstrates the harsh reality of an inconsistent regulatory regime, and these numbers run contrary to the belief of some policy makers that Colorado’s energy industry will grow no matter the constraints placed upon it,” said Meg Collins, Colorado Oil & Gas Association president.

Collins noted that the number of drilling rigs operating in Colorado has fallen by 54 percent since January, the sharpest decline in the country. In addition, the state has yet to issue a new permit since the rules took effective in April.

“Investors prefer to avoid jurisdictions with high royalty rates and costly and time-consuming regulations,” Angevine said. “Other factors being equal, competitive tax and regulatory regimes can attract investment and generate substantial economic benefits. Policy makers should recognize that overly strident regulations and anti-energy sentiment can be costly in terms of lost revenue and jobs.”

Pointing the finger at the new regulations is ridiculous, according to Josh Joswick, oil and gas coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. Pipeline capacity and changes in lending policies are bigger contributors to oil and gas declines, he argued.  

“The industry blusters a lot about how the regulations are too onerous,” Joswick said. “It’s true that activity has really slowed, but it’s not just because of the rules.”

Responsible resource development means more than revenue and jobs, Joswick added. The new regulations were created to make oil and gas a more sustainable industry and leave a lighter footprint on Colorado.

“Citizens, the environment, the watershed and wildlife are all going to benefit from these new rules,” Joswick said. “It’s gross exaggeration to say that the regulations are driving anybody anywhere.”

On the flip side, the survey ranked Arkansas as the new top dog for oil and gas. Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, Oklahoma and Indiana rounded out the top nine.

Lynx reintroduction marks milestone

The effort to reintroduce lynx to the Rocky Mountains is forging ahead. The Colorado Division of Wildlife found 10 lynx kittens during the annual spring lynx survey.  The kittens – seven female and three male – were the first documented since 2006.

Division of Wildlife researchers located five dens, including three near traditional release sites in the San Juan Mountains and two farther north in Gunnison and Eagle counties.

“The discovery of kittens this year is extremely promising,” said Tanya Shenk, DOW lynx field researcher. “The locations of the dens show that lynx are beginning to expand their ranges and are once again finding both food and habitat necessary for successful reproduction.”

In addition, two dens housed kittens from Colorado-born parents. They are the first kittens documented where both parents are native to Colorado. Division biologists believe there may be additional dens and kittens not found during this year’s survey.  

“The number of lynx fitted with radio collars is perhaps the lowest since we started the program,” said Shenk. “We can’t track all the females so it is probably safe to assume there are more dens and kittens out there than what we found during our survey.”

Researchers are currently monitoring 49 lynx with active radio collars. A large percentage of the original collars have stopped functioning and the vast majority of kittens born in Colorado have not been fitted with transmitters. As a result, estimates of the number of kittens produced are conservative. The dens located by field staff during spring surveys reflect a minimum number of kittens in a reproductive season. 

Since the lynx reintroduction program began in 1999, a total of 218 lynx have been reintroduced, and a total of 126 lynx kittens are known to have been born in Colorado.

While these results give a strong indication that lynx are adapting well to Colorado’s mountains, DOW biologists are reluctant to say they’ve reached the conclusion of this project.

“We are very close to achieving all of our goals for the lynx reintroduction,” said Rick Kahn, DOW lead biologist. “We have had successful breeding and we have had Colorado-born lynx reproduce ... We are very encouraged by the results this year and are hopeful that these animals will contribute towards a sustaining population for Colorado.”

Race Across America reaches finish

One of the most demanding bike races in the world reached the finish line this week, just days after passing through Durango. Daniel Wyss, of Switzerland, won the 3,021-mile Race Across America in eight days, five hours and 23 minutes. Daniela Genovesi, a Brazilian, won the solo female race, becoming the first South American winner in RAAM history.  Wyss beat out four-time champion Jure Robic. Even though Robic was in the lead for most of the race, Wyss kept him close. However, Robic stopped racing at Time Station #51 for unknown reasons.

In the team competition, Team Type 1 enjoyed victory in the eight-man competition, breaking last year’s speed record in the process. Team RANS triumphed in the four-man contest.Two other teams captured the interest of fans and bloggers of the race – Team Surfing USA and The Great Grand Pac Master. Surfing USA (Laird Hamilton, Tim Commerford, Don Wildman and Jason Winn) created a wave of interest when Jason Winn was hit by a car when the team was in first place in their division with just more than a third of the race to go. Surfing USA decided not to continue, and their journey came to an end. The Great Grand Pac Masters included a collection of 75 and older racers that formed a formidable four-man team. They covered the entire race in eight days 14 hours and 49 minutes at an average speed of almost 15 mph.

– Will Sands




In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows