5:59pm

Tue May 22, 2012
Business

Noble Energy To Invest Billions In Weld County Oil And Gas Boom

Houston based gas firm Noble Energy has formally opened its Northern Colorado Headquarters. The building signals the latest expansion amid the drilling boom taking place across the region, and another financial windfall for Weld County.

Governor John Hickenlooper, Republican Congressman Corey Gardner, and other local leaders joined Chuck Davidson, Chairman and CEO of Noble Energy Tuesday afternoon as he officially opened the company’s 66,500 square foot operations center in Greeley.

The building will house 300 employees. But Noble's Davidson says that number is expected to grow in the coming years.

“Our plan over the next 5 years is to invest some 8 billion dollars in wells and facilities in this area, and as a result there will not only be growth in Noble Energy employees, but we have some 120 contractors that support us in the field. So there are many, many more jobs that are being created.”

Noble Energy also presented a check to two Weld County school districts for 5 million dollars to help transition their school buses to run on compressed natural gas.  Weld County Commission Chairman Sean Conway says that, and the opening of the new operation center shows how vital the Niobrara shale formation is to the local economy.

"Currently they're going to have about 300 to 350 jobs in this building, but eventually it could be as high as 500. I expect it could get to 500 in short order based on the Niobrara play. It is a huge boom in terms of our local economy, especially to the surrounding communities of Greeley, Evans, Windsor, Johnstown, Milliken. But it really benefits the whole county.”

While Weld officials have embraced the continuing oil boom in Colorado, there remains concern that the process of extracting the oil, called hydraulic fracturing damages the environment.

Conway says he understands there may be concerns, however he's confident the process is safe.

"Weld county has more active wells than anywhere else in the United States. Over 18,000 wells. We've never had a case of ground water contamination -never had a single incident. And the reason is that we have good companies like Noble Energy, and others like Anadarko, Chesapeake and Encana and others that know that they can't afford to make a mistake." 

Geologists say the Niobrara shale formation fueling the oil boom in Northern Colorado could provide more than a billion barrels of oil. Noble's announcement comes after a planned expansion was announced late last year by another large player in the region -Anadarko Energy.