Friday, July 1, 2011

Key Fact: 85% of NY Marcellus Reserve Opened for Drilling

When you ask the bottom line question, how much of the New York Marcellus gas resource will be closed and how much will be opened by Governor Cuomo's announced policy, the answer is:

15% of the gas is off limits and 85% will be open to production.

Substantial protections will be in place for areas open to drilling. 

They include setback requirements that range from 500 to 2,000 feet.  No drilling in 100 year flood plains.  Waste handling requirements.  Waste water disposal requirements.  Water withdrawal processes.


  1. Thanks, John. Was wondering how significant the news was since it seemed to rule out several entire watersheds. Are the setback requirements and 100-year floodplain restrictions accounted for in the 85% value, or could that limit the reserves available by an additional amount?

  2. I am not sure. I do not know if the setbacks will impact production since horizontal drilling can go 10,000 feet. I don't know if the 85 percent number includes any setback impact. Good question.

  3. Concerned ScientistJuly 2, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    There is no Marcellus potential in the Syracuse watershed. The Marcellus outcrops south of Syracuse and is absent in the city and to the north. South of the outcrop belt it is too shallowly buried to be fracked and produced within the Syracuse watershed. The Utica is also unlikely to be prospective in that area. So it is sort of a symbolic gesture with no basis in science.

    From what I understand, there is potential in roughly the western third of the NYC watershed. Somewhere within the watershed, the geology changes and east of that point it may not be right for economic gas production. The Marcellus comes right up to the surface in the eastern most part of the watershed. So the eastern two-thirds may not be prospective anyway.

    Some of the state land and primary aquifer areas can be tapped with long horizontals without drilling on the surface in those areas.

    Martens and the DEC have done a good job in a very difficult situation. They got at least two moderate environmental groups on board and I think that is important. They may have gone overboard in a few areas, but given the insanity surrounding the issue I think it was a good approach.

  4. One more day until the full environmental impact statement is released on the DEC's website

    Interesting to note - in my opinion - from the preliminary recommendations, are the air pollution controls and monitoring, and the setback(s).

    Pennsylvania suspended the guideline that requires the state to consider and regulate the collective or aggregate emissions of well operations in a region. Will New York do this?

    And, Pennsylvania has similar setback distances from certain water courses and water supplies, but there's no outright drilling prohibition within the setback area. In Pennsylvania, you can site a wellhead within the setback. However, if the operator fouls the supply of a water purveyor, then the well operator must pay up. Oddly, within the PA regulations the well operator is encouraged to test public and private water drinking supplies within the defined setback areas from the wellhead - though not explicitly required. Will New York encourage testing water supplies within a given radius of a wellhead?