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Associated PressAssociated PressFebruary 18, 20182min348

Oil production continues to increase in Colorado as energy companies respond to a recent rebound in crude prices, according to U.S. government data.

The Energy Information Administration says drillers in the Niobrara region that includes much of northern Colorado will produce 580,000 barrels daily in March. That’s a 6 percent increase over February’s expected production.

Oil prices have risen sharply since last summer’s low of $43 a barrel, to over $60 a barrel in recent weeks.

Gas production also is expected to increase in the Niobrara in March, according to the energy agency.

The Niobrara includes portions of neighboring states, but the energy patch’s sweet spot is in Colorado’s Weld County, which has almost 24,000 active oil and gas wells.

Amid the industry’s resurgence, the number of drill rigs working in the state has remained relatively flat.

“Rigs are only one part of the picture,” Bernadette Johnson, vice president of Market Intelligence at DrillingInfo in Littleton, told Colorado Public Radio . “What matters more is how quickly those rigs can drill wells, and how big those wells are.”

Operators also are drawing down their stockpiles of “drilled but uncompleted wells.” These are wells that were previously drilled, but not finished.

Drilling applications suggest more new wells are on the way.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reported receiving 5,548 applications to drill last year, a 70 percent increase over 2016 and the most in at least six years.