GREELEY, Colo. (AP) -- Weld County is on pace to produce almost 80 percent of Colorado's oil output this year — again making it the oil-drilling center of Colorado.
Last year, Colorado hit a 50-year record in oil production of 49 million barrels. Weld County oil and gas producers pumped almost 75 percent of that amount, a figure that was more than double the 35 percent the county produced in 2000, the Greeley Tribune (http://tinyurl.com/bnuwdq8 ) reported Sunday.
Rangely Field in Rio Blanco County on the Western Slope was the top oil producer in the state years ago. But by the end of 2012, the county had produced just 10 percent of the state's oil, regulators said.
"Weld appears it will become the new dominant center of oil production in the state," said Pete Stark, an oil and gas analyst with IHS, a global market information and analytics company in Denver.
Since an experimental well named Jake gushed in northern Weld in late 2010, the oil and gas industry has taken advantage of growing technologies and improved practices to maximize oil production in the field that was for years thought more suited for gas production.
"It continues to be the gift that keeps giving," said Sean Conway, a Weld County commissioner who has championed the industry's economic benefits to the county.
Companies say drilling multiple wells from one pad and recycling fracking water have made operations more environmentally friendly.
But high production has brought challenges for Weld County that have made life tougher on residents who live near the sweet spots that have so far attracted drilling companies from as far away as Japan, the Tribune said.
Those issues include roads damaged by trucks and use of residents' properties to drill.
Information from: Greeley Daily Tribune, http://greeleytribune.com