DENVER -- Challenged by a sprawling population in the highly desirable and prolific Niobrara, speakers from the two largest operators in the play emphasized the importance of working together with citizens and communities, and talked about environmentally responsible operations and projects.

Dan Kelly , vice president of Noble Energy Inc .’s (NYSE: NBL) Denver-Julesburg Basin project, challenges his people who are working in the field to ask themselves every day, “With the work you’re doing, will you be invited back?”

Craig Walters , Wattenberg director for Anadarko Petroleum Corp . (NYSE: APC) in Denver, said, “We’ve got to be honest and open with the public in every area where we operate. We can’t do everything the public wants but it’s important that we listen.”

The Wattenberg field, in the heart of the Denver-Julesburg Basin, is one of the most active development areas in the country. Greeley, Colo., the county seat of Weld County and home to 250,000 residents and the University of Northern Colorado, sits over a seismically discovered geothermal anomaly.

Noble holds about 640,000 acres in the basin and drilled about 200 horizontal wells in 2012. Anadarko holds about two-thirds of the Wattenberg field, with 350,000 net acres. It estimates that its Wattenberg horizontal program holds net resources of 1 billion to 1.5 billion barrels of oil equivalent (BOE).

Delineating the size of the resource has required about 2,000 square miles of 3D seismic surveying, which means that a good portion of the survey has had to tread around the community.

In 2013, a seismic acquisition company shot one of the largest urban 3D seismic shoots in the country, at 23 square miles.

Kelly said, “The ‘social license’ to operate here is different than in Texas. Consider that some neighboring northern Colorado communities either have hydraulic fracturing moratoriums or have voted for outright bans, such as the city of Longmont.”

Both companies have taken a proactive, positive, neighbor-friendly and considerate approach to area residents. Both companies have funded an organization, Coloradans for Responsible Energy Development, and built a website, The organization also sponsors TV advertisements on local channels.

Noble, for example, now requires local workers to take three days of classes on local politics and the community. Noble also directly mailed information to city and county residents. “That worked really well for us,” Kelly said.

The company also put ‘Seismic 101’ information on the community