Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Denver Cleans Up in Ranking of “World’s Best Oil and Gas Cities”

Call this bit of news a “blast from the past” that will make people in Colorado’s oil and gas industry smile—and could leave environmentalists and members of the clean energy industry shaking their heads. Rigzone, an online industry news and analysis publication based in Houston, has named Denver the best oil and gas city in the U.S. and third-best oil and gas city in the world. The only cities to beat out Denver were second-ranked Calgary, Alberta, which is the center of Canada’s energy industry, and top-ranked Dubai, the booming United Arab Emirates city that is the hub for the oil and gas industry in the Persian Gulf. While the rankings aren’t an authoritative measure—Rigzone said about 8,000 readers participated in its survey—it is another indicator that the “old school” energy industry is booming while new industries such as wind and solar are struggling.

Rigzone’s introduction to the rankings said it looked at two factors—the economic potential of the area and its attractiveness as a place to work.

The Denver area did well on both measures. Companies including Halliburton, Noble Energy, Anadarko Petroleum, and EnCana have significant operations in the area. Estimates created by industry groups estimate oil and gas accounted for 77,600 jobs in the state in 2012, along with value-added economic activity of more than $11 billion. They project that by 2035, those numbers could swell to 175,363 jobs and $26 billion in impact. The report also cited the Denver area’s quality of life, opportunities for outdoor recreation, and good weather. What’s good for employees in the oil and gas world is to the consternation of environmentalists and some local communities.

New improvements to technologies such as directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are contributing to the boom. Together they have opened up new areas for exploration, but those fields often are near communities on the Front Range, where most Coloradans live. For the past few years, opponents have been organizing against the industry.

Michael Davidson
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