Drilling permit applications declining

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— The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says drilling permit applications in Colorado are on track to decrease about 14 percent this year compared to a record amount in 2008.

As of Feb. 16, there were 886 applications for permits to drill approved. The COGCC projects that at that pace, about 6,880 will be approved in 2009 compared to 8,027 last year, according to a COGCC Feb. 23 staff report.

Garfield County still pulled most of the activity compared to any other county. It grabbed 31 percent of the state's approved drilling permits with a total of 278 as of Feb. 16. The next highest were Weld County with 252 permits approved and Mesa County with 101 permits approved. Rio Blanco County had 33 permits approved - 4 percent of the state's total.

Williams Production RMT, the county's largest natural gas extractor, said last week, it plans to operate only 10 rigs in the Piceance Basin this year compared to about 26 last year. That's half as many as the 20 rigs planned for when operations were scaled back in December.

EnCana plans to run about five rigs in the Piceance Basin this year. It had about 15 rigs in the basin last year. One spokesman estimated a single rig produces 13 jobs directly and as many as 200 jobs indirectly.

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