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Sorry to get off topic a bit for this board but this is kind of related and definately follows an investment theme. Please forgive my intrusion and indulge me. Your thoughts are encouraged.

Natural gas is being touted as the new cash cow in northeast Wyoming's Campbell County. It is a part of the boom that is sweeping the Rocky Mountains. Colorado companies will invest more than $1B into new natural gas wells and pipelines in the Rockies during the next two years. Colorado Interstate Gas will spend more than $500M during the next two years expanding pipeline services. This is in an effort trying to meet growing demand for electricity in this internet enabled economy for not only Denver and all of Colorado's Front Range but Kansas City, Chicago and even Los Angeles. Natural gas consumption is burgeoning as it is used in electricity generation. States that produce the gas are Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah. Production in those states is expected to grow from 40 to 60% in the next 5 years (Cambridge Energy Research estimates) as the Rockies become a major supplier of growth for natural gas in North America.

Revenues from that growth are expected to follow suit. Cambridge estimates that future natural gas revenues from the five state region will top $7B, up from $3.5B in 1998. And Campbell Co. is thick in the middle of it with the richest most active natural gas fields in the United States. All told the Rocky Mountains supply about 14 to 14.5% of the 60 billion cubic feet of gas consumed daily in North America. The lions share comes from the Gulf of Mexico, Texas, and Canada. But those reserves are dwindling. Alaskan reserves are harder to distribute and more controversial in their acquisition.

Rocky Mountain gas is considered to have a leg up on other sources of new supply. Aside from the logistics and political quagmire associated with Alaskan sources, Rocky Mountain gas is easier to mine being found in shallow, coal-bed formations. These supplies are cheaper to bring into production than more traditional gas veins. A coal-bed well is only 300-600feet deep where as a traditional gas well is more like 10,000 feet deep and costs near $1M to bring on-line. Coal-bed wells cost only a fraction, more like $50-75,000. Colorado expects to issue more than 1,400 drilling permits this year compared to around 950 in 1999. Wyoming expects about 5,000 new wells this year. Campbell County and the rest of what is referred to as Powder Basin hope to win regulatory approval for drilling more than 30,000 wells in the next 5 to 10 years according to Barrett Resources CFO Frank Keller.

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