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Niobrara Shale Comes into Its Own

By Elliott H. Gue on Apr. 24, 2013

The oil and gas industry has blown hot and cold toward the Niobrara Shale over the past several years, with a lack of takeaway capacity, uneven well results and elevated production costs offsetting the promise of an oil-weighted resource base. The huge successes achieved in the Bakken Shale and Eagle Ford Shale also overshadowed developments in Colorado.

But upstream operators have stayed the course and honed their production techniques to the point that the play is ready to shift from the exploratory stage to full-scale development. We highlight of our favorite names that are leading the charge in this oft-overlooked unconventional basin.

Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL)

On pace to more than double its hydrocarbon production over the next five years, Houston-based Noble Energy (NYSE: NBL) is one of the world’s fastest-growing and best-positioned independent oil and gas producers.

In 2012 the upstream operator lifted an average of 239,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day; management forecasts that production will range between 270,000 and 282,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2013 and climb to about 540,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day by the end of 2015. To meet this ambitious target, Noble Energy will need to increase its hydrocarbon output at an average annual rate of about 17 percent over the next five years.

Much of this production growth will come from five core regions: the Denver-Julesburg Basin, the Marcellus Shale, the Eastern Mediterranean, West Africa and the deepwater Gulf of Mexico.

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