Update on Natural Gas Production in Pennsylvania

by Duane Nichols on August 3, 2016

Pennsylvania-(2015): Upper Devonian, Utica Shales Helped Drive Up NatGas Production

From an Article by Jamison Cocklin, NGI News Service, August 1, 2016

The Upper Devonian and Utica shales contributed meaningfully for the first time to Pennsylvania’s natural gas output in 2015, according to an annual oil and gas report that was released on Monday by the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP).

The state’s shale drillers produced more than 4.6 Tcf of natural gas in 2015, up from the 4.05 Tcf they produced in the prior year and well above the 1.06 Tcf they produced in 2011. While the Marcellus Shale remained the top-producing formation, contributing 4.5 Tcf of natural gas to the unconventional total, companies reported producing 47.2 Bcf from the Upper Devonian and 53.5 Bcf from the Utica.

It was the first time the PA-DEP has included a breakdown of production from those formations in its annual report, marking the turning point for multiple horizons in the state that came last year. About 26.7 Bcf was also reported from the Point Pleasant formation.

Upper Devonian shales, including the Burket, Genesee, Geneseo and Rhinestreet, all had reported production. The Burket produced the most last year at 21.5 Bcf. A group of shallower shales above the Marcellus, the Upper Devonian remains undeveloped by comparison. Much of the development in the state has come through wells drilled off existing Marcellus pads.

Similarly, development in the Utica outside of Ohio started to accelerate in recent years. It was in 2014 that operators began permitting wells and scheduling drilling to target the deep Utica in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The Keystone state’s first deep Utica test happened at the end of 2014, while one of West Virginia’s first commercial Utica wells was drilled that year as well.

Pennsylvania’s leading producers remained largely unchanged last year. Chesapeake Energy Corp. produced the most at 675.8 Bcf, followed by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. with 633 Bcf; Range Resources Corp. with 415 Bcf, EQT Corp. with 380.9 Bcf, and Chief Oil & Gas LLC with 271.5 Bcf.

The PA-DEP issued 2,520 drilling permits last year, of which 2,081 were for unconventional wells and 439 were for conventional wells. The most unconventional permits were issued in Southwest Pennsylvania’s Washington and Greene counties, where operators received 361 and 328 of them, respectively. Warren County in the Northwest part of the state led the way with the most conventional permits at 130.

The number of wells drilled in the state last year dropped significantly from 2014 as operators shed rigs, cut budgets and managed through the downturn. The PA-DEP said 2,163 wells were drilled, of which 1,372 were unconventional.

PA-DEP also increased its compliance inspections at well sites across the state last year to 34,604 from 14,651 in 2009, the report said. Since 2009, the PA-DEP has collected about $23.2 million in fines and penalties from both conventional and unconventional producers. Most of the fines the agency collected during that time, or $7.1 million, came in 2014. The state collected $3.4 million in fines and penalties during 2015.

From 2010 through 2015, however, the PA-DEP noted that the number of violations at unconventional well sites decreased from 1,280 to 404, representing a 67% reduction. The number of violations at conventional well sites over roughly the same time dropped from 2,092 to 1,024.

Top Utica Wells (ca. April 2015)

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“We need better gas regulations”

Letter to the Editor, Washington (PA) Observer-Reporter, August 2, 2016

It comes as little surprise that living near oil and gas development increases asthma attacks, as pointed out in a recent article in the Observer-Reporter.

The recent Fossil Fumes report released by the Clean Air Task Force documents that Pennsylvania has 1.5 million residents living within a half-mile of oil and gas facilities. The report calls this zone the threat radius. Along with methane, the main component of natural gas, facilities often release other air pollutants that can harm our health, including formaldehyde, benzene, acetaldehyde, and ethyl benzene. These toxins can cause cancer, respiratory symptoms, anemia, brain damage, birth defects, eye irritation, and blood and neurological disorders.

I have four children, and over the past nine years, there have been 10 wells placed in a radius of 1-to-3 miles from our home, 28 wells within 9 miles, with three new well sites being constructed since June. On each of these well pads are anywhere from eight to 10 wells, all having to be fracked, along with two compressor stations, three transmission lines, holding tanks and holding residual waste ponds.

We continue to demand action against the oil and gas industry, and we want to see better regulations. There are no federal standards controlling methane already being emitted from existing oil and gas facilities. Gov. Tom Wolf has promised to address these issues, and continues to kick the can down the road. People living with oil and gas pollution in the United States need help, and we call on the president to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to create new standards to cut methane and associated toxic air pollution from the 1.2 million existing oil and gas facilities around the United States.

Lois Bjornson, Scenery Hill, Washington County, PA

See also: www.FrackCheckWV.net

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StateImpact PA August 3, 2016 at 4:04 pm


Shale drillers produce more gas with less wells in 2015

 From NPR StateImpact Pennsylvania, August 2, 2016

The PA-DEP has released their Annual oil and gas report for 2015. Industry and environmentalists reacted differently to the findings. 

The Marcellus Shale Coalition released a statement praising the collaborative efforts of regulators and producers:

“At the same time, while the PA-DEP’s performed a record number of inspections, overall regulatory compliance is at a five-year high and trending in the right direction,” said MSC president Dave Spigelmyer. “We’re also very proud that despite the Commonwealth’s unique geology and longstanding shallow methane-related challenges, there were zero stray gas issues in 2015, thanks in large part to the strong, common sense well construction regulations that our industry supported.”

Spigelmyer added that any new taxes could jeopardize that progress.

Maya Van Rossum, from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, said the numbers don’t paint the real picture.

“The level of harm being inflicted by drilling and fracking on our communities and environment is not going down it is continuing to grow,” said Van Rossum. “You still see deforestation, you still see methane emissions, you still see the opportunity cost in that we continue to drill and frack instead of investing all that time and energy and resources into the clean energy path.”

See also: http://www.FrackCheckWV.net


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