Last year’s 50-year oil production record in Colorado may be broken again this year, according to the latest production statistics from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (OGCC). The statistics cover January through May.

Production in 2012 was the second highest in the state’s history and the highest in 50 years, hitting 49.3 million bbl, 26% higher than in 2011. In the first five months of this year, oil output hit 22.3 million bbl, which would put it on pace to total more than 53 million bbl by the end of 2013.

The big production boost is occurring at a time when the state’s drilling permits actually are falling, according to researchers at the University of Colorado (UC), Boulder (see Shale Daily, Aug. 21). From 2010 through 2012, permits issued dropped by 37% (5,996 to about 3,700), but over the same period, production jumped to 48 million bbl from 32 million bbl. Natural gas over the period rose slightly to 1.65 Tcf from 1.62 Tcf.

The all-time Colorado oil production mark was 58.5 million bbl in 1956, according to officials. As documented by UC, the continued robust growth is providing a well-needed boost to the state’s economy.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. reportedly has 4,000 drilling locations in Colorado from which it intends to drill, particularly in the Greater Wattenberg field (see Shale Daily, May 8). Noble Energy Inc. has indicated it has 9,500 additional drilling locations along Colorado’s northern Front Range, and the company has set its goal at drilling 500 wells annually over the next three to four years (see Shale Daily, Dec. 11, 2012).

Colorado may be reaching new highs in terms of absolute production, but the pace of growth is slowing. Crude oil production year/year in 2011 grew 19.6%, and in 2012 it jumped 26.0% Through the first five months of 2013, Colorado oil production has averaged 147,700 b/d, up 9.3% from the 135,000 b/d average in 2012.