Inside the Energy Boom

The energy boom is back in Western Colorado, the proof is in the numerous rigs scattering Interstate 70 between Parachute and Silt.

From Wisconsin to Louisiana, they come from all over to get up on a rig and take part in the energy boom that is quickly enveloping the Western Slope.

It's a strange calling and one that literally divides their lives in two, thanks to 12-hour day, two–week work stretches.

"The crew, we see these guys more than see our own family," motor man Jeremiah Mize said.

With Williams Energy operating more than 1,500 wells in Western Colorado and producing 500-million cubic feet of natural gas a day, the results of the work is evident.

However with the heavy lifting, changing climate and potentially dangerous conditions, this job takes a certain something.

"I think it takes a certain work ethic and pride in what you do," floor hand Elijah Liestman said.

Energy production is a sore subject for some, especially after the sudden bust in the mid 1980s, but hundreds of workers littered throughout the Western Slope, it's evident in many ways that Western Colorado is indeed re–entered a boom phase.

"Look at our sales taxes, 17 percent up from last year. I guarantee you that's attributable to the boom," Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis said.

While most rough necks enjoy what they do, the arduous work does have its rewards and is the calling for many.

"I do enjoy the work, but the money is intriguing," Liestman said.

For Williams rig employees, the pay scale starts at $25 an hour and that's for the low man on the totem pole.

However, a high school degree is required and higher education is preferred.


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