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Oil, gas wages for Colorado strong

State oil and gas association upbeat despite signs of a decline.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Dec. 30, 2015 at 6:15 AM
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DENVER, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The oil and gas industry of Colorado accounts for around twice the average wage for other industries in the state, a university study found.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper released its quarterly economic forecast last week, saying the state economy will grow, but not at the robust levels seen last year. The government's report said the impact of lower crude oil prices, down about 40 percent from last year, has only recently created strains. With the industry pulling back in part because of lower crude oil prices, Colorado expects a job growth rate of 2.8 percent for full-year 2015, nearly a full percentage point less than 2014.

A study from the University of Colorado at Boulder finds the industry pumped about $32 billion into the state economy and accounted for 38,650 direct jobs with average annual wages of more than $100,000, twice that of all other state industries.

Dan Haley, president and CEO of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, found support in the university study as about $600 in tax revenue per household comes from the energy industry's activity in the state.

"Every Coloradan is positively impacted by this industry," he said in a statement.

The Colorado Supreme Court heard arguments in early December on whether state or local governments have the authority to restrict hydraulic fracturing. A lower court threw out restrictions imposed by five Colorado cities and challenged by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Analysis of well activity in Colorado from energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie found between $750,000 and $1 million in potential tax revenue would be lost if fracking restrictions are enforced.

Meanwhile, a quarterly report from the state said a decline in output is expected from its Niobrara shale deposit. The U.S. Energy Information Administration said average production from Niobrara was around 368,000 barrels per day for December, a rate that should decline by about 6.5 percent in January.

While about half of the counties in Colorado have oil and gas activity, Weld County accounts for nearly all of the state's oil production and 25 percent of its gas.

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