As drilling across the northern Utica continues to yield promising results, area residents are showing more and more interest in how the industry will affect the northern half of Pennsylvania. The Potter County Natural Gas Resource Center sponsored award-winning Penn State geoscientist Dr. Terry Engelder, who came to speak in Coudersport on Tuesday to address this very issue.
Dr. Engelder’s presentation, titled “Utica Shale: Digging Deeper,” comes at a time when large drilling projects in the region are progressing rapidly. Property owners are beginning to lease land to drilling companies, such as Cole Memorial Hospital in Coudersport, which recently worked out a deal to lease acreage to JKLM Energy LLC, according to The Bradford Era. JKLM Energy has also purchased subsurface rights in Sweden and Hector Townships for exploratory drilling.
“There are many things we do not know about the Utica Shale, but there are signs that it’s going to be a very productive source of natural gas in our region, so the more we know, the better prepared we can be,” said Bob Veilleux, director for the Natural Gas Resource Center, corroborating Engelder’s expectations that the shale gas boom in the area would be “a historic game-changer in terms of America’s energy portfolio.” The Bradford Era noted that Engelder began researching the shale production and hydrofracturing and predicted the boom long before his peers.
Pennsylvania General Energy (PGE) has recognized northern Pennsylvania’s potential, too, as the company just broke ground on its first Utica well in Keating Township. PGE already has existing operations in the area, including additional wells in Keating and Roulette Townships, and plans to maintain those wells despite the dip in gas prices. Travis Peak and Shell also have interests in Potter County.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, since January 1, Potter County has issued 2 new drilling permits out of the 240 new permits across Pennsylvania. Susquehanna, Washington, and McKean Counties have issued the most permits so far this year. However, as companies continue to explore oil and gas potential, Potter County and the rest of north central and northeast Pennsylvania, we’re likely to see numbers in Potter County increase.