Energy. Environment. Economy.

Marcellus Shale production numbers break another record


Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY

A Cabot drill rig in Susquehanna County.

Drilling companies in Pennsylvania have broken yet another record, as shale gas production jumped 30 percent last year, according to new data released by the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Marcellus Shale drillers produced more than 2 trillion cubic feet of gas in the second half of 2014. Throughout all of last year, they produced 3.7 trillion cubic feet– or about 16 percent of what the entire United States consumes on an annual basis.

“Economic growth from natural gas production has translated into increased disposable income for families and more profitable businesses,” said Frank Macchiarola, of the industry trade group, America’s Natural Gas Alliance. “Pennsylvania also is supplying the rest of the country with abundant natural gas helping to power America.”

Once again, the Susquehanna County operations of Cabot Oil and Gas are the most productive wells in the state. On a county-level basis, Bradford produces the most gas, followed by Washington, Susquehanna, Lycoming, and Greene counties.

The Marcellus Shale region (which encompasses parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia) is the most productive natural gas formation in the country, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which tracks drilling productivity.

This chart shows daily gas production from 2007 to 2015.

Courtesy: U.S. Energy Information Administration

This chart shows the Marcellus Shale's daily gas production from 2007 to 2015.

Note: This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: Pennsylvania’s gas production totals for 2014 are 3.7 trillion cubic feet, not 4 trillion.


  • Victoria Switzer

    Should have bought Cabot stock way back when! (my lame attempt at humor). Never dreamed I would be living in the SAUDI ARABIA of gas. Shall I list all the ways I have benefited?……………….


    frac on America..drill baby drill

  • Meenal Raval

    this isn’t what i’d hoped to read. there are so many health and environmental problems behind this glowing report.

  • MrPittsburgh

    Thought that graph showed how many people moved out of the frack zone.

  • JimBarth

    Doesn’t the USGS estimate there is about 84 tcf of ngas in the Marcellus? At the rate of 4tcf in a year, that is 21 years worth. Of course, the depletion rates are fantastic (65 to 80% in the first year), so, exactly how many wells will need to be drilled just to keep that production up? I imagine a few tcf were produced prior to last year, so let’s figure 20 years? Then what? How many holes do you want to drill and frack, and where? Ban fracking now, move on to renewables ASAP. Pennsylvania is too precious.

    • Jim Young

      A 2007 Shell brochure said they were expecting to drill from 32 to 64 times as many wells to get reasonably affordable production (last I heard they were at 40 times as many as conventional wells because of the rapid drop off and expensive “snake” drilling to try to get to ever tighter and smaller pockets).

      As they make a pin cushion out of the underlying structure, pretty much enhancing earthquake activity, I’m wondering how they expect to compete on cost with other regions that can get the same amount of energy out for a 5th or less of the cost (and I assume a lot less ecological, health, and damage to water sheds).

      The economics, alone, doesn’t add up (unless they plan on wars, etc, to take away the advantages other countries have in just cheaper extraction).

    • Kaya

      A well is expected to produce > 10bcf in its life so if you wanted to extract 100tcf you would need <10,000 wells over decades

      By comparison that is more than 10x as energy dense as a wind mill lasting for 20 years.

      so its ~1000 shale pads vs 100,000 large 3MW wind turbines

  • Frackit

    A truly great amount of natural gas from the Marcellus ! The Utica shale, which is below the Marcellus, will add even more for our need to use our fossil fuels. With Natural Gas being the lowest fuel which contributes to any greenhouse gasses, it is by far our best !

    Since the ‘green’ energy sources are not nearly productive enough today, and with the current limits to the few we have invented, like windmills & solar panels, they can never replace natural gas. Hopefully someday we will be able to invent a ‘green’ source that will take up most of our power needs.

    To supply ourselves with power our country requires, this is the greatest we have ever been able to have!!! With estimates by the USGS totaling over 100 TRILLION cu ft for these two sources, they will last for a long, long time.

    • JimBarth

      You do know that the US consumes, at current rate, about 28 tcf per year?
      Folks like you also want to liquify and export it (with subsidies of course).
      Folks like you want subsidies that help create other markets such as ngas for the auto/truck industry, and for ngas to replace coal generated electricity ? How could this industry last a “long, long time” using that scenario? Fracking is a curse, not a blessing. In a couple of decades or less, if you get what you want, we will be left with a devastated environment, continued increase in pre-mature births, autism, cancer, general ill health and a whole lot of holes in the earth in places that never should have them. Oh, if you have your way, we still won’t have made any progress in the alternative.

    • JimBarth

      then there’s the climate impacts and climate change for the worse…

  • AlSever

    Gas will last a lot longer than projected! You all are too pessimistic. If you keep up on what is happening with bacteria resistant to Antibiotics, real scientists, not your frack nut case, pseudo-scientists , project a reduction in total human population by two thirds in the next ten years.
    And don’t forget the Genesco Formation–Seneca has a few outstanding Genesco wells now in Lewis twp, Lycoming County

    • JimBarth

      You forgot to mention what’s his name…Jerry Sandusky! As for the Genesco formation, and 5 billion deaths in the next 10 years, the earth may also just crack open from all these frack holes. Good job!

  • ronwagn

    Thank God for fracking. The main reducer of pollution and CO2!

  • rdsouza

    The US burns about 900,000 tons of coal in our coal-fired power plants that the EPA wants to shut down, Would these new 16 trillion cf of gas be sufficient to keep those power plants running if they can convert to gas as a fuel; and how would the economics affect the consumer. Anyone? I really do not like the Obama Admin’s crony capitalism of the ‘renewable sector’ where the taxpayer is bearing the load via tax credits to the likes of Solyndra etc.

    • Kaya

      If you fed 16 bcf/d into nat gas plants you would get ~1025 TWh of electricity out which is about 25% of total USA electricity demand

      That would take usa coal from ~40% to ~15%

      But note total usa shale gas output isn’t 16bcf/d that is just marcellus. Total shale gas output is over 45bcf/d now.

      more than enough to twice over replace coal in power generation. However shale gas has been needed to step in and make up for conventional gas declines so there isn’t…yet…that much spare gas to displace the coal

      • JimBarth

        When one compares your 16bcf/d statement to the 4 tcf/yr in 2014 Marcellus production figure in the article, it shows you to be off by a factor of almost 50%. (16 bcf/d is more like 5.84 tcf/yr). Your coal replacement number is off as well. What’s up with you?

        • Kaya

          The EIA states that marcellus production for this month to be 16.55 bcf/d and I believe that to be a more accurate figure than a nice round ‘its about 4tcf a year’

          So 16.55 bcf/d x 365 d/y = 6.04 tcf/y

          yes that is a good deal higher than than this articles suggested 4tcf but thats how fast this shale industry has grown. A year is the difference between 20-30% in some cases

          anyway 1tcf if nat gas is 293TWh of heat which in a modern nat gas power station is converted at 60% to electricity = 176 TWh of electricity

          176 x 6.04 = 1063 TWh of electricity.

          total usa electricity consumption is about 4200 TWh

  • wendylynnelee

    This does not, unfortunately, tell the whole story–and not even about the profitability of the gas (not to mention the damages to health, property value, and community cohesion for those living in or near the shale fields–and not to mention the tremendous damage done to the civil liberties of those who’d aim to expose the gas industry’s efforts to conceal their very dirty business). For a more objective account, see:

    From the Energy Forum piece:

    “Tight oil in the US is experiencing shocking deterioration in production vs. declines percentages just since November. Rig counts have plunged and though production overall is still rising, the amount used to offset the steep declines in older tight oil wells is skyrocketing. For instance, in the Bakken as recently as November 2014, 71% of all new production coming online was being used to do nothing but offset the declines in older wells. This was a very high figure. But over the ensuing three months as crude prices crumbled and capital expenditure has been slashed this figure has soared to 86%. – See more at:“:

    “The same thing is happening in the Eagle Ford where 72% of all new production was needed in November 2014 but has now risen to 89%. This is problematic because these figures are rapidly approaching 100% which means that the plays are quickly falling into decline. The amount of new production simply cannot keep up with the steep declines in older wells. Unfortunately “older” in shale gas and tight oil means a mere 4-5 years. These are not long lived wells. This is a classic illustration of the challenge of shale production. Without a frenzy of relentless drilling, operators just can’t maintain a stable production profile. Almost literally, the minute they stop drilling, the whole exercise begins to unravel. And yet, this is what the industry proposes we bet our energy future on.”

    So EVEN from the point of view of Drill, baby! Drill!” it’s more like “Fall, baby! Fall!”

    • Kaya


      a baker needs to buy more flower and bake more bread to keep his business going that is nothing shocking or new.

      All coal oil and gas fields require constant investment that isn’t new or some reason or imminent failure

      But most importantly there is the fact that the world can’t supply the usa with LNG to displace shale. So IF shale gas is not economic at todays prices it isn’t the end of shale gas but the beginning of higher nat gas prices

      • Dean Marshall

        OR, (perhaps), it is the beginning of the Energy Industry finally conceding that Fossil Fuel is rapidly a less lucrative investment and a transition to truly Clean, Sustainable production and delivery of Safer Renewables is the best course of action. If every Nation continues to Mine, Drill, and Frack to burn carbon fuels at current rates, it won’t matter about your “math” or profit ratios…….Drought, Sea level rise, and Violent weather will make the “Adjustment” for us!

        • Kaya

          But no developed nation is ‘green’ it simply isn’t possible.

          A country like Sweden or Norway has gone the furthest (not Germany) because they have for their population size lots of hydroelectric power.

          but even Sweden and Norway are big per capita fossil users.

          so although fantasy is nice its not franking vs solar panels. Its fracking vs coal its fracking domestic gas vs imported LNG

  • JimBarth

    I’m sorry to see this comment thread, under a story dated 2/17 and written by Marie Cusick, is open, while Marie’s Vera Scroggins story, dated 2/18, is closed. I would have loved to have joined in against the idiot likes of the Vermin butt flashers, and his Southern Tier jerks who waste people’s time with visions of secession in hopes of joining with fracking Susquehanna County. Too bad I work for a living and missed 12 hours.

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