Industry expert: 40 percent fewer natural gas rigs will be operating by June

(Photo/comscigrad, Flickr)
(Photo/comscigrad, Flickr)
Colorado’s natural gas boom of the past several years is quite rapidly going bust, according to one industry analyst who spoke to a group of real estate agents in Grand Junction last week.

According to the Grand Junction Free Press, Carter Mathies, a partner at Golden-based Arista Midstream Services LLC, told the gathering that the only thing saving the natural gas industry right now is a brutal winter in the Northeast and Midwest.

That’s keeping the demand up, but otherwise, the natural gas industry — responding to shortages in recent years — would be overproducing given falling demand and plummeting prices, Mathies said.

“We addressed the decline and have now oversupplied the country,” he said. “We’re our own worst enemy.”

Mathies, who said he surveyed various companies with a guarantee of anonymity (because they’re mostly publicly traded and can’t discuss market trends), predicted 40 percent fewer rigs will be operating on the Western Slope by June.

His comments echo a prediction by former Western Slope congressman and now occasional energy industry attorney Scott McInnis, who in November told the Colorado Independent the boom was all but over.

And Mathies’ statements also lend credence to a study detailed in the Colorado Independent in December that warned against Western Slope communities putting too much stock in the current energy boom.

“Any drilling right now on the Western Slope is uneconomic,” Mathies said last week.

is an award-winning reporter who has covered energy, environmental and political issues for years. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Denver Post. He's founder of Real Vail and Real Aspen.

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