Chief Oil & Gas Drilling Wells in Dauphin and Somerset Counties, PA

Chief Oil & Gas (based in Dallas), is in the process of drilling wells in Jefferson Township in Dauphin County, and Addison Township in Somerset County, both in Pennsylvania. According to a Chief spokesman, if those wells do well, it “could lead to large-scale development in the region.” Chief owns the rights to 580,000 acres across the entire Marcellus Shale area.

For more details on Chief and a recent meeting they held for area residents, see:
Somerset Daily American (Mar 11) – Gas reps seek community support

Drilling in the PA Marcellus Shale Sets Blistering Pace in 2010, On Course for $7 Billion Investment

The Philadelphia Inquirer has an excellent roundup of drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale, with a listing of the top 20 active energy companies in the PA Marcellus Shale. Well worth reading and bookmarking!

The article starts with this:

So far in 2010, natural gas exploration companies have broken ground on three Marcellus Shale wells in Pennsylvania every day, triple the pace of a year ago.

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the industry trade group, estimates that up to 1,750 wells will be drilled this year, up from 763 last year.

At $4 million a well, that’s a $7 billion investment – not counting land-acquisition costs or royalties on gas produced.*

New York needs to wake up NOW. Marcellus Shale drilling is here to stay, especially in Pennsylvania. It’s having a huge impact on jobs, investments and taxes. New York could use an extra $7 billion in investment right about now!

*Philadelphia Inquirer (Mar 14) – Gas Drilling Going Deep

Number of Gas Drilling Rigs in U.S. Up 11 Weeks in a Row, New One-Year High

According to oil services firm Baker Hughes, the number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the U.S. is now at a one-year high of 927 active rigs. That number includes all three types of drilling: directional, vertical and horizontal. The number also includes all gas drilling in the U.S., not just the Marcellus Shale. Still, it is encouraging and the trend has been up 11 weeks in a row.

For more details on the recent numbers, see this article:
Reuters (Mar 12) – US natural gas rig count up for 11th straight week

For more data on rig counts, including downloadable spreadsheets & PDF files, see:
Baker Hughes – Investor Relations – Rig Counts

New Marcellus Wastewater Treatment Plant Set to Open in Westmoreland County, PA

The Pennsylvania State Department of Environmental Protection has issued a permit for a new Marcellus drilling wastewater treatment facility to begin operations in April in western PA.

Stephen Frobouck, a partner in Reserve Environmental Services Inc., said the treatment facility at the former American Video Glass plant in East Huntingdon, Westmoreland County, is ready for operations to begin in April.

"We will have the capacity to handle (water from) 500 to 600 wells a year," Frobouck said Friday, declining to say how much the firm paid to prepare the plant for its new use.*

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 13) – Plant near New Stanton to treat gas wastewater

Nytis Exploration Sells Lease for 11,657 Acres in the PA Marcellus to Northeast Natural Energy

From a press release* dated March 11:

Northeast Natural Energy LLC (“NNE”) announced today that it has closed the acquisition of 11,657 net acres in the core of the Marcellus Shale and associated shallow conventional oil and gas wells from Nytis Exploration Company LLC and from Nytis Exploration of Pennsylvania LLC (“Nytis”), both private exploration and production companies. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“We are very pleased to establish a significant acreage position in the core of the Marcellus Shale,” said Mike John, NNE’s President. “The acreage, which is very high in quality, is located in some of the most attractive areas in the Marcellus including Armstrong, Clearfield and Westmoreland Counties, Pennsylvania. This transaction provides a platform for future bolt-on positions in the region and establishes NNE’s position as a key participant in the development of the Marcellus Shale. We look forward to drilling this acreage as we continue to evaluate many other substantial opportunities in the Marcellus.”

*Business Wire (Mar 11) – Northeast Natural Energy Acquires 11,657 Net Acres in the Marcellus Shale from Nytis Exploration Company

PA Gas Compressor Facility Causing Grief for Some Neighbors

In states where drilling is now happening, particularly Pennsylvania, there appears to be issues with some (not all) compressor stations used to pump gas from local wells to nearby processing facilities. One such station is located in Mount Pleasant Township in Washington County, PA. Mount Pleasant is the location of the very first horizontal gas well drilled in the Marcellus.

The compressor station in Mount Pleasant is operated by MarkWest Energy, a company that operates more than 100 other such facilities in the U.S. MarkWest has made application to add a fifth compressor to the facility to meet increasing demand, and some of the nearby neighbors are objecting to the noise, lights and odors that come from the facility. An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, although taking an anti-drilling tone, exposes the tensions that occur in some locations between compressor operators and the people that live close by. It also highlights the debate over where regulation of these facilities lies—with local municipalities? Or with the state?

Read the article for more details:
Pittsburg Post-Gazette (Mar 14) – Neighbors take a stand on noise, odor of gas drilling