Will Exxon’s Lack of Marcellus Drilling Lead to Expired Leases?

slipping awayAn energy industry consultant and investment analyst writes an interesting article on Seeking Alpha about Exxon Mobil’s commitment to dry shale shale (“methane only”). Richard Zeits characterizes Exxon’s shift away from dry to wet gas (oil and natural gas liquids) as “radical,” citing Exxon’s onshore rig count decline from 71 to 50 rigs (a 30% drop) since the beginning of this year as evidence of the change. He estimates they use less than 10 of the remaining 50 rigs for drilling in dry gas areas.

Zeits says that Exxon may not be able to hold a sizable amount of leased acreage they hold in dry gas areas of the Marcellus and Fayetteville Shale basins because of the reduced rig count. That is, they won’t be able to drill on the leased acreage by the time the leases expire—especially in the Marcellus where they’re only operating four rigs on 660,000 acres of holdings.

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