More shale production expected from Colorado

Bill Barrett Corp. raises its production guidance for the year and lowers its forecast for capital expenditures.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Sept. 6, 2017 at 8:28 AM
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Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Bill Barrett Corp., which has a core focus in U.S. shale oil basins, said production for the year could be higher than expected because of Colorado's success.

Bill Barrett said it was updating its guidance on 2017 production figures following positive results from a nine-well drilling program in Colorado.

"We remain encouraged by the early results of our enhanced completions in the Denver-Julesburg basin, which combined with faster drilling and completion cycle time allows us to deliver a higher growth profile," President and CEO Scot Woodall said in a statement.

The company said it expected to produce between 6.4 million and 6.6 million barrels of oil equivalent this year, a 4 percent increase from its previous estimate and 12 percent higher than last year. Predictions for third quarter production sales volumes were revised upward by 9 percent.

The updated guidance comes as oil and natural gas companies grow accustomed to a market where $50 per barrel of oil is normal, compared with prices above the $100 per barrel mark three years ago. Once constrained by lower market prices, energy companies are making improvements in operational efficiency and the U.S. shale sector has shown itself to be more resilient to a weakened market than expected.

Bill Barrett said it planned to spud as many as 75 new wells this year, unchanged from its previous estimate. Capital spending, however, was lowered from $285 million at the high end to $270 million.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported that Colorado produced about 374,000 barrels of oil per day in June, the last full month for which federal data are available. That's down slightly from the previous month. Drilling services company Baker Hughes recorded 37 rigs actively exploring for or producing oil or natural gas in Colorado last week, unchanged from the previous week, but about double the level from last year.

Colorado is rich in shale oil reserves, supplying about 3 percent of total U.S. crude oil production in large part from its Niobrara and Denver-Julesberg basins. Production quadrupled from 2010 to 2015, but slowed down last year because of the strains of lower crude oil prices.

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