MESA COUNTY, Colo. While U.S. Census data found oil and gas industry is expanding around the country, it's a different case on the Western Slope.
Mining, quarrying, oil and gas establishments grew by more than 25% between 2007 and 2012 in the U.S.
However, oil and gas activity has been declining in Western Colorado due to a shift away from dry natural gas.
Local experts said liquefied natural gas could be the key to a successful future along with the exploration of the Mancos Shale.
"Short-term drilling activities have decreased, but there's something we can do about it," said David Ludlam, of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. "Liquefied natural gas exports are something we really need to focus on right now. Not only to shore up our allies in Europe, but to create markets for locally-produced energy products."
Ludlam said technology can also be to blame for the decreasing rig numbers.
Horizontal drilling technology increases efficiency, so less wells and fewer people are needed to produce the same results.