ConocoPhillips Plans Colorado Research Center

Thursday, February 28th 2008, 6:50 pm
By: News On 6

ConocoPhillips is building a new research center in Colorado.  But, what does that mean for the company's longtime research center in Bartlesville?  The News On 6's Steve Berg reports the announcement appeared to catch everyone in Colorado by surprise.

ConocoPhillips bought a sprawling piece of land, more than 400 acres, in Louisville, north of Denver.  Plans are to demolish existing buildings and construct their own.

Officials in Colorado say it was one of the best-kept real estate secrets they've ever seen.  Even the governor said he was in the dark, but was clearly pleased when he found out.

"We believe that this demonstrates what we've been saying about our new energy economy in Colorado.  This commitment by ConocoPhillips will marry the traditional oil & gas industry with renewable energy," said Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.

ConocoPhillips employs around 1,300 scientists between their research center in Bartlesville and another in Ponca City.

Company spokesman Bill Tanner tells The News On 6 that they "don't anticipate relocating Bartlesville people to Denver on a wholesale basis."

Still, real estate experts in the Denver area say they're puzzled why ConocoPhillips needs so much land.  For example, the acreage is 11% bigger than Microsoft's Washington headquarters, one of the biggest corporate campuses in the world.

ConocoPhillips says this will be a research center for alternative bio-fuels, but they also say they'll research high-tech carbon fuels recovery.

Colorado happens to be near the world's largest source of oil shale.  Locked away in these rocks, experts believe there is three times the amount of oil in Saudi Arabia, as much as 1 trillion barrels.  But, ConocoPhillips' spokesman says oil shale is just one thing they'll be looking at in Colorado, not the driving force behind the move.

On the company's own website, they have a question and answer section about the move.

One of the questions is:  will additional operations be moved to Louisville?

The answer is:  (The Colorado site) will certainly provide them flexibility and alternatives from a facilities standpoint as they look at how best to support the company's growth.

It also says it gives them space to consider what they call future options.