Anadarko Petroleum Corp. said that land it has leased in the Wattenberg oil field in northern Colorado may hold more than a billion barrels of recoverable oil and natural gas, in the latest sign that energy production in the U.S. is set to surge.Nov 14
The disclosure could vault the Wattenberg onto a growing list of major new oil discoveries in the United States, joining the Bakken Shale in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in South Texas. These new sources of oil are reversing four decades of declining domestic energy production.
What is making them possible are new technologies, including horizontal drilling of wells that start vertically and then turn to run horizontally through energy-rich rocks. Another key technology is hydraulic fracturing, which involves pumping millions of gallons of water and sand, along with chemicals, to break open deeply buried rocks and free oil and natural gas.
James Hackett, chairman and chief executive of Anadarko Petroleum, said he thinks current U.S. oil production could be doubled in the next 25 years.
“The resource is there and the technology is there,” he said in an interview.
Echoing industry concerns, he says he is worried that anti-drilling sentiment could prevent this growth. The industry’s use of hydraulic fracturing, in particular, has prompted concerns about pollution; the federal government and several states are studying whether new regulations on water use and air emissions are needed.
Anadarko is announcing that 11 recent wells in the Wattenberg have given it confidence that it can drill between 1,200 and 2,700 wells in northeast Colorado. It plans to drill about 160 wells next year.
Based on early results, it expects its wells will ultimately yield between 500 million and 1.5 billion barrels of oil, natural gas liquids, and natural gas.
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