Marcellus & Utica Drilling Rigs Active in PA, OH & WV

by Duane Nichols on October 26, 2017

Marcellus drilling rig, Chartiers Township, Washington Co., PA

Pennsylvania retains slim lead in rig counts over Ohio, more than WV

From an Article by Paul J. Gough, Pittsburgh Business Journal, October 23, 2017

Pennsylvania added one working natural gas rig to its tally in the first two weeks of October, maintaining its slim lead over Ohio among Appalachian natural gas producers.

There were 32 rigs in Pennsylvania during the week ended Oct. 20, according to the latest data released by oilfield services company Baker Hughes. That compares to 29 in Ohio, where the rig count has remained steady since the end of August. Pennsylvania has seen its rig count stay in the low- to mid-30s all year.

At the same time, West Virginia lost one rig since the beginning of October and now has 15. But that’s still one rig higher than it had in August, according to Baker Hughes data.

Pennsylvania has always had a lead in rig counts over the course of the Marcellus and Utica Shale booms, but that traditional lead has been slipping in recent months as more takeaway capacity comes online in Ohio.

Baker Hughes said there were 913 oil and natural gas rigs in the U.S. last week, down 15 from a week ago but up 360 from a year ago when the energy industry was still in sustained downturn.

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Fox 25 News November 1, 2017 at 4:50 am

U.S. rig count declines by 4 this week to 909; Texas gains 5; WV down 2

From Fox News 25, Associated Press, Saturday, October 28, 2017

HOUSTON (AP) — The number of rigs exploring for oil and natural gas in the U.S. declined by four this week to 909.

That’s up from the 557 rigs that were active a year ago.

Houston oilfield services company Baker Hughes said Friday that 737 rigs sought oil and 172 explored for natural gas this week.

Among major oil- and gas-producing states, Texas gained five rigs and Oklahoma and Wyoming each increased by one.

Louisiana lost three rigs, North Dakota and West Virginia each declined by two and Alaska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Pennsylvania each lost one.

Arkansas, California, Ohio and Utah were unchanged.

The U.S. rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981. It bottomed out in May of 2016 at 404.



SHALE DAILY February 1, 2018 at 11:09 pm

Pennsylvania Governor Calls for Steeper Fees to Reduce Well Permit Backlog

From NGI Shale Daily, January 29, 2018

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf wants to more than double natural gas well permit fees and give more money to the PA state Department of Environmental Protection (PA-DEP) to reduce a backlog of permits and modernize the application process to make it more efficient.

The oil and natural gas industry has bemoaned the backlog as it’s worsened over the last year or so. In some cases, operators have waited more than 230 days for well permits, according to the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC). The backlog has become most severe in the PA-DEP’s Southwest District Office, located in a part of the state where Marcellus and Utica shale development has been heaviest.

Permit applications have piled up amid a “decade of cuts that led to bigger backlogs and longer wait times,” PA-DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. Over the last decade, the agency’s oil and gas staff has declined from 226 employees to 190. Wolf said Friday that PA-DEP will soon release a regulatory package calling for a well permit fee increase from $5,000 to $12,500 to help the agency implement efficiency initiatives that the administration said would better serve the industry.

Wolf also plans to call for $2.5 million in the 2018-2019 budget he’ll release in February to hire 35 new employees to fill high-priority positions across the agency. About half of PA-DEP’s budget comes from the state general fund and federal funds, while the other half comes from fees and fines. PA-DEP’s general fund appropriation has steadily decreased from a high of $245.6 million in 2002-2003 to about $148 million in this year’s budget. Wolf has unsuccessfully called for funding increases in the past that have not been met by the legislature, where some lawmakers have questioned the time it takes for PA-DEP to issue oil and gas permits.

After a yearlong effort to identify and implement strategies to cut the backlog, Wolf said Friday that PA-DEP would also expand electronic permitting, support legislation to better align the permitting process with the industry being served and provide clearer instructions to operators to help reduce time-consuming incomplete applications.

Only underground mining permits and storage tank renewal authorizations are currently able to be applied for online. But the PA-DEP said it plans to phase in its Office of Oil and Gas Management, along with the Bureau of Air Quality and others into the e-permitting platform by the end of the year. That would help reduce paperwork.

The administration also plans to support legislation that would eliminate the requirement that a well be constructed within one year of a permit being issued and replace it with a three-year term. As pads grow to accommodate more wells, Wolf said his administration would back other legislation that would allow for permitting multiple wells on one pad site with just one application.

MSC President David Spigelmyer welcomed the state’s commitment to solving the problem, and said his organization would continue to “engage with policymakers on ways to enhance Pennsylvania’s business climate and maximize the shared benefits of natural gas development.”

However, the industry also seemed bearish on the idea of increasing permitting fees, which the MSC noted has happened before. Three years ago, fees were increased from an average of up to $3,600 — based on the depth and length of a well — to a flat fee of $5,000.

The PA-DEP, however, continues to maintain that it’s been asked to do more with less. The agency’s responsibilities have only increased in the shale era. There are more than 10,000 unconventional wells on record in the state, according to the agency’s latest annual report. Some of DEP’s permitting initiatives, the Wolf administration said, are already being implemented, which have helped reduce the agency’s overall backlog by 6,000 permits since the summer.


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