Washington — Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry will likely defeat an effective drilling ban on November’s ballot, a key state lawmaker predicted Friday, but she cautioned that the effort would return stronger in 2020 if state legislators do not find common ground on regulating abandoned wells and other issues.
House Majority Leader KC Becker said on a Baird conference call that oil and gas interests are spending $30 million to defeat Proposition 112, compared with $1 million by supporters of the measure.
The proposition on the November 6 ballot would increase oil and gas drilling setbacks to 2,500 feet, from 500 feet, which would effectively ban most new drilling in the prolific Denver-Julesburg Basin, where the core acreage overlaps with the state’s most populous areas.
Colorado’s oil production would sink to 275,000 b/d by the end of 2023, a 54% drop from current projections, and gas output would fall to 1.9 Bcf/d, down 45% from the current outlook, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics.
The figures reflect natural well declines, assuming operators would leave currently producing wells in place but not drill any new wells after 2020, as Colorado’s approved drilling permits are valid for two years. Colorado is the sixth top producer for both oil and natural gas.