New Numbers Show PA Gas Production Will Lead Nation

  • Susan Phillips

Pennsylvania has become a net exporter of natural gas and could become the nation’s leading gas producer. A report released Wednesday by the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, says their production for 2010 was higher than expected. Penn State University researchers conducted the study, which was commissioned by the Coalition. The 2010 report, by the same researchers, projected 1700 wells and a billion cubic feet of gas. But a survey of gas drillers shows the amount of actual gas produced is double their projections despite drilling only 1400 wells. The new report says in less than a decade, Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas could lead the nation in natural gas production.
Marcellus Shale Coalition president, Kathryn Klaber says this report contradicts a New York Times piece that questioned the long term economic viability of shale gas drilling, comparing the buzz to a Ponzi scheme. But this excerpt from the Coalition’s report could explain why shale gas development, at least in other parts of the country, could exhibit a boom-bust cycle.

“Unlike conventional oil and gas development expanding production from shale resources requires continuous drilling activity. Substantial cutbacks in drilling significantly reduce production after a few years because the production decline curve is initially very steep for shale gas reservoirs. Nevertheless, the sheer geographical size of the Marcellus supports significantly higher levels of drilling.”

In addition to the larger Marcellus reserves, the Coalition says technology is rapidly improving to boost production in Pennsylvania.
Critics have called previous Penn State reports biased because they are funded by industry. The report relied on survey results of 12 gas producers. But the Coalition’s Kathryn Klaber says the methodology has produced an accurate portrayal of gas production. “The methodology here is as true as you can get to what individual companies confidentially report, individually, to the researchers,” she said, ” ….It is what it is.”
Klaber also reiterated her group’s support of an impact fee. On Friday, the Marcellus Shale Commission is set to release its recommendations to Governor Corbett on taxing Marcellus Shale. Klaber says there are some unmet needs in local communities that can be addressed with a “reasonable competitive impact fee.”
Meanwhile, an official with the Energy Information Agency stands by their shale gas projections, and takes issue with the Times piece. Politico reported on the testimony of Howard Gruenspecht at a Senate hearing this week. Gruenspecht said some of the emails cited in the Times piece came from an entry-level staffer, and were heavily redacted.

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