Niobrara (CO & WY) - update through March 2018

This interactive presentation contains the latest oil & gas production data through January, from all 7,658 horizontal wells that started production in the Niobrara region (Colorado & Wyoming) since 2009/2010.

Unconventional oil & gas production in this region is at record levels, after a surge in 2017. With production from still a few percent of the wells missing, March production from these horizontal wells came in at 480 thousand bo/d, with the bulk (~75%) coming from Weld county in North Colorado, in the heart of the D-J basin.

Well productivity went up significantly since Q4 2016 as can be seen in the ‘Well quality’ tab. Operators completed longer laterals, and used far more (~40% vs. a few months earlier) proppants per completion.

The last tab (‘Top operators’) shows the 5 leading operators in this area. Extraction Oil & Gas, the 3rd largest operator, tripled its production to over 50 thousand bo/d in just the past year.


The ‘Advanced Insights’ presentation is displayed below:



In this “Ultimate Recovery” graph, the average cumulative production of all these horizontal wells is plotted against the production rate. Wells are grouped by the quarter in which production started.

If you extrapolate some of these curves down to a production level of 10 bo/d, you’ll get a cumulative oil recovery of roughly double the amount that is recovered in the first 12 months.

Once Ohio releases Q1 production numbers, which I expect in the coming days, I will have a new post on the Appalachian basin, including West Virginia which just published 2017 production data.

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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.


  • Ian Austin says:

    There has been quite the growth story in CO/WY in the past 1.5/2 years. Is there any real explanation for this? Judging by your Well Productivity data, these fields are “nothing to call home to mom” about. So, what gives – was there a huge concentration of DUCs in these fields?


    1. Enno says:


      Indeed well productivity in this basin is lower than other oil basins. However, on average wells are also shallower and shorter (although this has been changing recently), and therefore well costs are lower. Also note that associated gas production is fairly substantial here.

      1. Mike Shellman says:

        Attaboy, Jim; that’s a purrrrrrfect answer for Ian and the real explanation for all things shaley.

        1. Mike Shellman says:

          You are correct, Ian. But you know what I think about all this shale stuff…NONE of it makes economic sense to me.

        2. Ian Austin says:

          Mike, good point, but these fields seem to be on the lower end of places to spend OPM (think about that for a second…..)

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