Petroleum is a liquid mixture of hydrocarbons that is present in rock strata. The extracted form of petroleum -- crude oil -- is refined into products such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and asphalt. Colorado oil production dates back to 1860, when the first oil well in the western United States was drilled in Florence, Colorado. 

Colorado continues to be a major oil producer in the United States. According to the Energy Information Administration, Colorado produced 116 million barrels of crude oil in 2016, ranking 7th in the nation. Over 80% of Colorado’s crude is produced in the Denver-Julesburg Basin in the northeastern part of the state. The map below depicts major basins in grey, oil and gas fields in red, and production wells in green.


Oil and Gas Wells of Colorado map


Colorado has one major refinery, located in Commerce City and operated by Suncor Energy. The refinery produces gasoline, diesel, and asphalt. Additional petroleum products are supplied by surrounding states, most heavily from Texas and Wyoming.

One important oil and gas byproduct is produced water -- the water and water-based solutions produced during exploration and production operations at oil and gas wells. In 2012, oil and gas operations in the state produced 303 million barrels of water. In 2014, the Colorado Energy Office and the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University convened stakeholders in Grand Junction to explore the potential for re-use of produced water from oil and gas operations, and they developed an accompanying research report. Since then, the first produced water dust suppression project was launched in Montrose County, and the first commercial produced water facility is being developed in Weld County.

Oil and gas development is regulated at the state level by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.