A shale gas drilling rig in Washington, Pa.

Michael Rubinkam / AP Photo

Oil and gas well drilling increased in 2017, reversing a decline

The Department of Environmental Protection has released its 2017 Oil and Gas Annual Report, which revealed 2,231 oil and gas well drilling permits were issued last year. It’s the first increase in activity since 2014.

Scott Perry, deputy secretary of the DEP’s Office of Oil and Gas Management, said the jump is directly related to the price of oil and gas.

“Natural gas prices have rebounded slightly, as have oil prices,” Perry said. “The industry responds to those prices by drilling more wells to capture the profits.”

But drilling activity is still far below the boom years of 2010 and 2011, when more than 5,000 wells were drilled each year.

The report also revealed there was a steep climb in violations reported by the DEP at oil and gas well sites — over 4,000 violations in 2017 compared to 2,290 in 2016. However, Perry said that’s because the department now counts every day of an ongoing violation as a new transgression, wheras before a violation would be counted just once.

Read more here.

The full report can beĀ viewed here.