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Denver Ranked As The Number 3 Oil And Gas City In The World

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Denver has just been named the third best city in the world for oil and gas -- beating out other well-known oil-producing cities such as Houston.

In fact, Denver was the only U.S. city to make the list, which was compiled by the Houston-based Rigzone. Rigzone polled nearly 8,000 leaders in the field to determine the rankings, which were released Monday. Dubai was ranked the top oil and gas city, and Calgary was second.

There’s no question that the petroleum industry is experiencing a boom in northern Colorado. North of Denver, oil-friendly Weld County is on track to produce 80 percent of the state’s oil in the next few years.

Not everyone is on board with the growth, though. Within the last year, both Longmont and Fort Collins have passed bans on hydraulic fracturing within city limits, putting them at odds with both industry groups and the state’s Democratic Governor (and former geologist) John Hickenlooper.

Still, the controversy hasn’t kept Denver from topping the list of oil and gas-friendly cities. The survey points to several reasons behind Denver’s high ranking:


Innovations like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have allowed the industry to explore Colorado’s ‘unconventional’ resources. These resources include large shale plays such as the Niobrara formation, which the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) says could hold up to 2 billion barrels of recoverable oil reserves.


A report from the Institute for 21st Century Energy says Colorado’s oil and gas industry already has a lot and is on track to create even more in the next 30 years. The state was tenth overall for traditional energy jobs. With more than 77,000 jobs supported by shale activity now, employment is expected to grow to more than 121,300 in the next seven years, and to 175,360 by 2035.


Even for those working in the burgeoning industry, it’s not all work and no play.

“Work-life balance continues to be a dominant theme,” Rigzone president Paul Caplan said in a statement. “Energy professionals know there’s a lot of hours put in, but there are just as many opportunities for extended time off.”

Here’s what the survey had to say about the area:

“Denver residents can enjoy an active lifestyle, thanks to the city's proximity to the ski resorts and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Rocky Mountains, as well as the city's golf courses, dog parks, swimming pools and tennis courts. Not surprisingly, Denver's access to outdoor recreation opportunities means its residents are among the healthiest in the United States. In 2011, Forbes magazine ranked Denver fifth among America's Top 20 Healthiest Cities. The city's overall good weather, performing arts and cultural opportunities, panoramic view of the Rockies and excellent schools make Denver an ideal place to work.”

Of course, those of us who live in and around the Mile-High City already know it’s tops for outdoor recreation like hiking, biking, rafting, skiing and snowboarding. Throw in Colorado’s incredible history of craft brewing and thriving nerd culture, and Denver’s third-place ranking isn’t that much of a surprise at all.

Here’s the complete list from Rigzone:

10. Cairo
9. Kuala Lumpur
8. Mumbai
7. Rio de Janeiro
6. Perth (Australia)
5. Jakarta
4. Singapore
3. Denver
2. Calgary
1. Dubai

Ed. note: This post was updated to reflect that the #6 city is Perth, Australia.

As the host of KUNC’s new program and podcast In the NoCo, I work closely with our producers and reporters to bring context and diverse perspectives to the important issues of the day. Northern Colorado is such a diverse and growing region, brimming with history, culture, music, education, civic engagement, and amazing outdoor recreation. I love finding the stories and voices that reflect what makes NoCo such an extraordinary place to live.
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