Permitted vs Spud Wells by County

Now that the “SB24-159 Modifications to Energy & Carbon Management Processes” bill has been introduced in the legislature and is getting some media attention, industry advocates once again say that activists are trying to ban fossil fuel extraction today, right now, no exceptions. In reality, the legislation is meant to slow down and eventually stop the permitting process. Even this will take quite a bit of time.

The Colorado Energy & Carbon Management Commission (ECMC) makes available a daily data download for the visualizations available on the Daily Activity Dashboard. One of the sheets available in the Excel workbook is Spud Data, showing two interesting statistics for each county in Colorado:

  • The number of well permits approved for the county, but not yet “spud,” i.e. the operator has not begun drilling the well.
  • The number of wells spud in the county over the last 12 months.

Here’s a simple visualization of the top 10 counties by number of wells permitted but not yet spud:

Notes and Observations

  • Across the state of Colorado, there are 1,431 wells permitted but not yet spud. There have been 510 wells spud in the last 12 months. The vast majority of those are in Weld County.
  • At its current rate, Weld County would have two years and 7 months of drilling to do if no new permits were issued.
  • Given that rig counts in the DJ Basin peaked in December 2022 with 20 active drilling rigs, declining steadily such that there are currently only 12 active drilling rigs in the county, it may take longer than 3 years to drill these wells.

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