The long and winding road: Weld County’s oil travels the distance to local, worldwide markets – Colorado News

The long and winding road: Weld County’s oil travels the distance to local, worldwide markets – Colorado News

At the gas station it only takes a minute to fill up your tank, but that fuel required hundreds of man-hours and went through several processes to get to your car.

Each well in the Denver-Julesburg Basin produces crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids, and Colorado sees little fruits of that labor. Because of market forces and a surplus of oil, much of what is produced in Weld County’s oil patch is transported to other states or overseas.

From the point of extraction, a barrel of oil enters a network of possible destinations based on factors such as market demand, transportation options and the type of oil. This highly complex process involves several steps, and every barrel and petroleum product has a unique journey to consumers.

Begins with producers

A barrel of oil begins with the producers, such as Extraction Oil & Gas, which operates out of the Wattenberg Field in the Denver-Julesburg Basin — the area from which Weld draws its hydrocarbons. Extraction drills in a variety of places, including Triple Creek, the drilling site west of 71st Avenue between 10th and 20th streets in west Greeley. Blane Thingelstad, a petroleum engineer for Extraction, said the oil once produced from the ground will go into a pipeline to market. At many production sites, however, oil is stored in a tank then loaded onto a truck for transport.

From Weld, oil is sent to Platteville or Lucerne. From Platteville, oil travels to Cushing, Okla., via a crude pipeline; from Lucerne, Extraction ships oil to refineries by rail — either to Suncor in Commerce City, or the Frontier Refinery in Cheyenne, Wyo.

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