Pennsylvania shale drillers produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in the second half of 2014, setting another record despite low prices that have prompted a cutback in activity, the state reported Tuesday.
Producers pulled more than 4 trillion cubic feet of gas from shale last year, a 30-percent increase from the year before.
Industry groups applauded the numbers while sounding a cautious tone about what they see as threats to development: depressed prices and a proposal by Gov. Tom Wolf to impose two new taxes on sales and production.
“This is a tremendous success story — a story about jobs and opportunity,” said Frank Macchiarola, executive vice president for government affairs at America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “We hope the story continues, and that the next few chapters include sensible tax policy and new infrastructure so that Pennsylvania residents can fully benefit from the commonwealth’s abundant natural gas supplies.”
Susquehanna and Bradford counties led the state. Susquehanna wells yielded 478 billion cubic feet and Bradford 406 billion cubic feet, according to data from the state Department of Environmental Protection. Washington County was third in the state and led Western Pennsylvania with nearly 252 billion cubic feet.
The Top 5 producing companies remained unchanged from the first half of 2014. Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy led the way with about 388 billion cubic feet from 712 producing wells, followed by Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas, Fort Worth-based Range Resources, Houston-based Southwestern Energy and Downtown-based EQT Corp.
Most of the production is coming from the Marcellus shale that run beneath about half the state and was first tapped 10 years ago in Washington County. Companies have started also drilling into the deeper Utica shale in Pennsylvania with great success.
Production from about 55,000 conventional shallow gas wells dropped to about 114 billion cubic feet last year from 214 billion the year before as companies focused on shale well development.
Despite depressed natural gas prices, companies increased the number of shale wells they brought online during the period. There were 5,965 active wells in production during the second half of the year, according to the state, about 565 more wells than the previous six months. Companies connected fewer than 500 wells during the first half of the year.
“I don’t see an immediate drop in production,” said Lou D’Amico, president and executive director of the Pennsylvania Independent Oil & Gas Association in Marshall. “Currently, if drilled wells decline, they’re going to be replaced by wells that are waiting to be put online…I don’t see a major increase in production, but certainly I don’t see a major production decline at this point.”
Companies including Range, Cecil-based Consol Energy (the 11th-largest shale producer) and State College-based Rex Energy (No. 17 on the latest list) have said they will reduce capital spending by between 27 percent and 43 percent because gas prices recently hit their lowest level since 2012, but still plan to increase production by up to 30 percent. Cecil-based Rice Energy on Tuesday said it would produce up to 72 percent more gas this year compared to last, even as it cuts capital spending by nearly 20 percent.
Staff writers David Conti and Chris Fleisher contributed to this report.
This article was written by Katelyn Ferral from The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.