Study finds Proposition 112 passing could eliminate access to 58% of Colorado's subsurface minerals

October 22, 2018

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Latest poll shows ballot initiative approval leading 52%-48% 
  • Gas, oil production could fall at least 45% in five years

Denver — If passed, Colorado's Proposition 112 ballot initiative might not completely destroy the oil and natural gas industry in the state as producers could employ longer laterals to reach molecules while still complying with increased setback rules, according to a study released by the Colorado School of Mines.

Proposition 112, which will appear on the November 6 ballot, would increase new oil and gas drilling setbacks from 500 feet to 2,500 feet from occupied structures, parks and waterways. It would eliminate 85% of all non-federal surface land from use for drilling, according to separate analysis by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. But Peter Maniloff, a professor at the Colorado School of Mines, determined more than 15% of subsurface minerals could be reached through modern drilling techniques.

"With the recent advent of horizontal drilling, some subsurface resources beneath the 2,500 foot buffer may be reachable from within the 15% available surface area," he said. "I calculated what area of the subsurface is within 1 mile of a surface location, which would remain accessible under Prop 112. That is, how much of the subsurface would be available, assuming that firms could drill horizontally for 1 mile from any accessible surface location. I find that 42% of the non-federal subsurface would be accessible, or nearly three times the available surface area."

However, he noted that restricting oil and gas operations to such a small portion of surface space would "impose substantial operational difficulties." 

Read entire article at S&P Global Platts

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