Noble Energy looks to Colorado shale

Noble Energy plans to devote almost half of next year’s capital spending to developing the Niobrara Shale play in Colorado, company executives said Thursday.

The Houston-based independent oil and gas company said it will invest more than $1.7 billion to accelerate its horizontal drilling program in the Niobrara’s Denver-Julesburg Basin, as it seeks to benefit from bountiful oil and natural gas liquids discoveries.

Calling the Niobrara a “top-tier oil play,” Noble Energy CEO Charles Davidson said. The company plans to add 300 additional horizontal wells in the Niobrara. The company estimates that its operations there will yield a 50 percent growth in cash flow in the next five years.

Susan Cunningham, senior vice president of exploration, said core data, seismic data, local mapping, engineering work and monitoring have “unlocked new resource opportunities.”

The Niobrara investment strategy is part of Noble Energy’s broader plan to invest $3.9 billion in 2013 on projects in the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa, the Middle East and the Marcellus shale in the northeastern U.S.

“Our total resource is just under 10 billion barrels,” Davidson said. “Further, what we have discovered but not put on the books is 5.1 billion barrels. Based on our current production, that is about 50 years worth, which is what will allow us to grow rapidly over the coming years.”