Weld County is undergoing an explosion in the number of oil and gas companies using a technique called "horizontal drilling" to get at deposits deep in the Denver Basin, according to the Greeley Tribune. Which puts us in mind of a certain Simpsons episode.
Remember when Mr. Burns established the "Burns Slant Drilling Co." to get at oil beneath Springfield elementary? Horizontal drilling is kind of like that, except more sideways. A drill is sunk several thousand feet down and then turned parallel to the surface for up to two miles.
Industry experts attribute the Weld County rush to an oil rig dubbed Jake that gushed 50,000 barrels of crude oil in its first ninety days after being tapped in 2009 using the horizontal drilling technique.
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Jake copycats are hoping to get at the estimated five million barrels of oil that may be in the deposit known as the Niobrara formation.
In 2010, energy companies obtained 204 permits for horizontal drilling rigs in Weld County, up from just twelve the previous year. And the number is expected to rise. Just this past January, the state granted 36 horizontal drilling permits, says the Tribune.
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