Friday, January 4, 2013

Stunning Fact: Annual New Gas Well Starts In PA Were Higher Before Marcellus Shale Boom

Most would be surprised to learn that the number of gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania was higher in the years immediately before the shale gas boom started in Pennsylvania.  Or to say it another way, the number of gas wells drilled in Pennsylvania has fallen, is down, since the Marcellus boom began  But those are facts.

The statistic is a reminder that gas wells--lots of them--were being drilled in Pennsylvania before the shale gas revolution.  Indeed, in 2006 and 2007, the years immediately before the start of the shale gas boom in 2008, more gas wells were started than were in 2010 and 2011, once the Marcellus boom took off. Stunning! www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=9390.

Though the number of gas wells drilled was higher prior to shale gas, the gas wells were vertical, smaller, and produced much less gas. Annual production was around 500 million cubic feet per day or enough to heat 6,000 homes in one day for a year and about 2.1 million homes per year

Though the well count declined when shale gas production began, the wells are horizontal, deeper to the Marcellus shale, and much more productive.  By 2011, gas production had jumped to 3.5 billion cubic feet per day or enough to supply 42,000 homes in one day for a year and nearly 15 million homes per year.  Gas production in Pennsylvania will have increased even further during 2012.

It is ironic that, prior to shale gas, that gas drilling was largely out of sight and mind for the media and public in Pennsylvania and many places, even though the number of gas wells drilled was higher in the pre-shale era.    Gas drilling, however, now is producing much more gas, creating more wealth and jobs, and requiring more trucks, water, pipelines, compressor stations, and other infrastructure to move the gas to market.  It also reaches places that never before had gas drilling or production.  And much more attention has followed.

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