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Weld County has Saudis running scared

In the state that claims the New Energy Economy, it isn’t renewable energy that has Middle East oil suppliers worried about lack of U.S. demand. Dan Kish, senior vice president for policy at the Institute for Energy Research, told Amy Oliver in an interview on KFKA that the recent announcement (Anadarko Petroleum) of up to 1.5 billion BOE (barrels of oil equivalent) along with advanced technology to extract liquid fossil fuels from the Wattenberg Field, have the Saudis worried that America will become fossil fuel independent.

Kish cited a speech from Khalid Al-Falih, president and CEO of Saudi Aramco. Al-Falih told a Saudi audience in Riyadh Monday:

There is a new emphasis in the industry on unconventional liquids, and shale gas technologies are also being applied to shale oil.

Some are even talking about an era of ‘energy independence’ for the Americas, based on the immense conventional and unconventional hydrocarbon resources located there. While that might be stretching the point, it is clear that the abundance of resources and the more ‘balanced’ geographical distribution of unconventionals have reduced the much-hyped concerns over ‘energy security’, which once served as the undercurrent driving energy policies and dominated the global energy debate.

Previously, the Saudis could just produce more barrels of oil to force a decrease in global prices and thus, fend off development of the higher priced, more unconventional sources of liquid fossil fuels including natural gas and oil shale. Improved technology such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have made extraction much more cost effective with less of a surface footprint.

Furthermore, an article from Financial Post, which covered Al-Falih’s speech, reported he has little faith in the green movement such as Colorado’s New Energy Economy being able to dramatically change American need for fossil fuel:

[The] Saudis would be cheering on the green groups…they don’t hold out much hope for renewable energies… Calling them ‘green bubbles,’ Al-Falih says governments should stop focusing on unproven and expensive energy mix, as there is frankly no appetite for massive investments in expensive, ill-thought-out energy policies and pet projects.

The Saudis have already seen a drop in oil exports to the U.S. from 11.2 percent (of total imported oil) five years ago to the current 9.3 percent.

The one thing that the New Energy Economy has in common with the Wattenberg Field, is Colorado. The Wattenberg Field and the energy rich Niobrara formation are centered in northeastern Colorado. Much of Colorado’s oil and gas drilling activity is centered in Weld County. According to Kish, Weld County has the Saudis running scared.

At a time of economic struggle Weld County welcomes drilling in more than 17,500 active wells, which could translate into an additional $50,000,000 annually in revenue to the county and municipalities according to Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway.

Hey Boulder! How’s that New Energy Economy working for you? By the way, Weld County has no debt either.