Nearly 1,900 wells were initially shut down by the deluge, out of more than 51,000 statewide, but around 300 have since been brought back online. No major well spills have been reported, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry group. It says there was no hydraulic fracturing going on at the time of the flooding, so no fracking fluids have been released.
Some activists and environmentalists are calling for more regulation of drilling near the river as a result of the spills. COGA president Tisha Schuller said the industry would learn from problems during the disaster, but she declined to comment on the need for more regulation. Schuller said she and other industry workers have been displaced by the flooding and want to make sure the state recuperates.
"We will be here joining with our neighbors over the days, months and years ahead as we recover," she said.
The basin's largest producer, Houston-based Noble Energy, said two wells that were releasing natural gas have been shut down and a third would be shut down once it was safe to access. The company estimates it has shut down between 5 and 10 percent of its wells because of flooding, and has been monitoring them from the air and ground.
The Colorado boom has been welcomed by many — and opposed by many concerned about the possible environmental effects of fracking, a process that breaks apart deep rock to recover more gas.
If flood damage is minimal, the industry could quickly resume a frenzied pace of drilling in an area where companies were on track to sink $4 billion into new projects this year, McCrimmon said.
McCrimmon said she expected the consequences will be negligible on broader oil and gas markets. Despite its growth, the area's Wattenberg Field ranks far behind other active oil plays in the U.S.
Colorado produced 135,000 barrels of oil a day in 2012, the highest level in at least three decades but still only about 2 percent of total U.S. production.
Colorado's natural gas production topped 1.6 trillion cubic feet in 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration. That's about 6 percent of the nation's total.
Denver-based PDC Energy, Texas-based Anadarko and Canada-based Encana Corp. also shut down wells but planned to reopen some of them.
Encana said it resumed operations on more than 150 wells after shutting down almost 400 due to high water and poor access. That left 245 wells still out of service by mid-week, and inspections for environmental damage were continuing.
Brown reported from Billings, Mont.