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Black Hills Exploration and Production helped substantiate the USGS estimate by completing a number of 8,000- to 10,000-foot horizontal wells in the Niobrara Formation in the Piceance Basin in Colorado. The Niobrara Formation in the Piceance Basin is a 1,200 foot thick gas-producing pay-zone of complex rock properties. The exploration program had three major items to address: the optimal zone in which to land the horizontal wells; the proper orientation of the horizontal wellbore in that zone; and how to complete the horizontal wells effectively. Black Hills believes maximum production in the Niobrara will be achieved by optimizing hydraulic fracturing operations to create the largest quality reservoir contact.

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