Energy Industry on Western Slope to Get Worse Before Better

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

Mesa County commissioners say we will lose out on $3 billion this year as drilling activity slows on the Western Slope.

Friday commissioners met with energy experts to discuss the state of the energy industry here in Mesa County.

"In 2009 its going to be very difficult sledding."
"We are no longer the diamond in the rough."
"This one is sharp, this hurts." The talk today at the county courthouse was about the slowing energy industry and how it got that way. Energy consultant Carter Mathies says the problem started with a boom.
"We turned the spigot on and sent it to market right when we have a complete financial collapse in the country, depressed our demand so we over supplied a declining market," says Mathies.

Fingers were also pointed at the uncertainty of the looming oil and gas regulations and how they are thought to be sending companies out of state. County Commissioner Craig Meis "(Other states) don't have near the hoops and hurdles you jump through to develop here in Northwest Colorado."

Now 2009 looks to be the year that it could all catch up to us. "We are probably going to see significant job loss, unfortunately, when you are considering that 70 percent of the rigs are going away," says Meis.
Officials say it's hard to narrow down how many people that puts out of a job, but they do know it will cost the county. Meis says, "The fact that we are probably going to lose close to $3 billion out of our community just in drilling activity in this year alone."

Mathies says despite the downturn things will turn around. "These cycles are not unprecedented in our industry." Mathies says the natural gas is here and so is the need. "We need it desperately to bridge the gap to our new energy plans."

Mathies says business could be back to a steady pace in a year or so. "Perhaps as early as 2nd quarter 2010 probably more like 3rd quarter." That's if the national economy picks back up.

Mathies says the infrastructure is already here, the natural gas is here, and the companies are here, its just a matter of time.

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