Vertical/Shallow Gas Wells in PA Try Going Horizontal

A fascinating story in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about a developing trend in Pennsylvania’s gas (and oil) fields–the trend of smaller drillers and even some larger drillers who are now targeting shallow rock layers with horizontal drilling. Vertical or conventional natural gas drilling produces a lot less gas than deeper unconventional/horizontal drilling. A LOT less. So how can “mom and pop” vertical drillers compete against the big boys? By going horizontal too.

Seems that some vertical drillers are giving horizontal drilling in their existing vertical wells a try. Instead of drilling down 5,000 feet to the Marcellus, they’re drilling down only 2,000 feet before turning the bit horizontal. The rock layers they’re targeting won’t be anywhere near as productive as the Marcellus–but hey, if you can goose production by 5-10X that of a traditional vertical-only well, it’s very profitable for a tiny fraction of the cost it takes to drill a Marcellus well. Thing is, we won’t know just how productive (or profitable) until next year because these shallower wells only self-report annually…

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