Niobrara (CO & WY) - update through November 2016

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data from 5864 selected horizontal wells in the Niobrara region (Colorado & Wyoming) through November.

Most of the oil in this region is produced in the DJ (Denver-Julesberg) basin, but a significant portion is also coming from the Powder River basin, which overlaps with Northeast Wyoming.

Oil production from this area basically doubled in 2014, and since the 2nd quarter 2016, it was again at a level seen near the end of 2014, of around 350k bo/d. Just over half the number of horizontal wells started production in 2016, compared with the same period in 2015 (741 vs 1305).

Total gas production continued to grow in 2016, although the pace was lower compared with the very steep rise in 2014.

Moving to the 3rd tab (“Well quality”), you’ll notice that despite the steep drop in newly producing wells, well productivity hasn’t changed much since 2014. Wells have become more gassier on average, which can be seen if you switch to gas using the “Product” selection.

In the top graph of “Well status” tab we can see the status of all these wells over time. You may notice that there was an uptick in drilling again in November, as 125 wells were spud. Will this mark the start of a period with rising oil production again?

Declines are rather steep here, and as the bottom graph shows, almost 70% of all these wells, that started production since 2010, were in November at a level below 50 bo/d.

Anadarko and Noble Energy are the largest producers in these 2 states, as the last tab shows. Both have most of their production in Weld county (CO), and both slowed down a little compared with their production tops in 2015.

The new ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



This “Ultimate recovery” overview shows how all these horizontal wells progress towards their ultimate recovery, while declining over time. The wells are grouped by the year in which they started production (“first flow”).

The 2nd tab ranks all these wells according to cumulative production. Three wells have breached the 400 kbo cumulative production level, while the median well is so far just below 70 kbo.

In the “Well status map” overview we can easily see where all these wells are located. If you select only “First flow” in the “Show well statuses” selection, you can see where new wells started production in November: almost all in, or around, Well county (CO).

Around next week Tuesday I plan another update on Pennsylvania, followed by a post on all covered US states.

Production data is subject to revisions.

For this presentation, I used data gathered from the following sources:

  • Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission
  • Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission


The above presentation has many interactive features:

  • You can click through the blocks on the top to see the slides.
  • Each slide has filters that can be set, e.g. to select individual or groups of operators. You can first click “all” to deselect all items. You have to click the “apply” button at the bottom to enforce the changes. After that, click anywhere on the presentation.
  • Tooltips are shown by just hovering the mouse over parts of the presentation.
  • You can move the map around, and zoom in/out.
  • By clicking on the legend you can highlight selected items.
  • Note that filters have to be set for each tab separately.
  • The operator who currently owns the well is designated by “operator (current)”. The operator who operated a well in a past month is designated by “operator (actual)”. This distinction is useful when the ownership of a well changed over time.
  • If you have any questions on how to use the interactivity, or how to analyze specific questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.


  • Elliott Hough says:

    Great work Enno, do you by chance have access to Oklahoma data? and if so have any plans to do something similar for Anadarko Woodford, SCOOP/STACK?

    1. Krisvis says:

      The cumulative production is very low. I do not seen how Niobrara can grow at all even at $70 oil price. I see the production stabilizing. Why would anybody want to drill there?

    2. Enno says:

      Thank you Elliott,

      I’m also quite interested in Oklahoma; it is the state with the largest amount of horizontal drilling that is not yet included in my database.

      However, after thoroughly checking the public data offered by this state, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is too incomplete in order to calculate or estimate individual well production data for both oil and gas, which is what is needed for this format.

      Unless this situation changes, I unfortunately cannot include this state.

  • Dennis Coyne says:

    Hi Enno,

    Thanks. Do you have any idea why the EIA data for the Niobrara is so much lower than yours?

    At the peak in April 2015 the EIA has 311 kb/d, where you have 402 kb/d. In Nov 2016, you have 354 kb/d and EIA has 290 kb/d.

    1. Enno says:


      Where did you see this EIA number for the Niobrara?

      I see that the EIA has a higher peak rate than I show here, of almost 500 kbo/d, see the Niobrara sheet in the DPR data:

      They count a few more counties in the West of Colorado and also in Nebraska & Kansas, besides including production from vertical wells.

      1. Dennis Coyne says:

        Hi Enno,

        I use data from the page linked below, the DPR includes output from the Niobrara region and is a model which does not always match the data well.

        See Tight oil estimates on that page

        1. Enno says:


          Thanks. I think most of the differences with the EIA numbers are caused by 2 factors:
          1. differences in area covered
          2. horizontal wells (shaleprofile) vs all wells (EIA)

          I’ve not checked, but I’m pretty sure that the EIA here looks at a smaller area than I do; here they probably exclude the Powder River basin in WY, which is more oil-rich than the DJ-Basin.

          As several views in my presentations show the exact locations of the wells I include, it should be easy to spot whether differences are caused by the 1st factor. Using the county selection it may be possible in certain cases to narrow this difference.

  • Dennis Coyne says:

    Hi Enno,

    The EIA data claims the Niobrara data includes Wyoming and Colorado, the EIA usually includes both vertical and horizontal wells so I would think their number would tend to be higher than yours. I was surprised to see the difference.

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