Encana’s Big Gamble in Luzerne County, PA

Will Encana Oil & Gas’ gamble in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania pay off? We’ll know soon. Encana is due to start drilling two exploratory wells in Luzerne County this week. The drilling process itself will last 65-75 days.

So why is it a gamble for Encana to drill for gas in Luzerne County? Nobody knows for sure if the Marcellus Shale gas deposits are commercially viable that far south.

Maps of the Marcellus Shale show the formation running throughout Luzerne County. However, its shale may not be very rich in gas due to the proximity of the anthracite coal-producing areas and high temperatures, which can turn the gas into carbon dioxide, Mr. [Steve] Myers [from Citrus Energy] said.

“There’s some concerns that the Marcellus Shale was subjected to some high temperatures, high pressures that would have converted the shale to graphite and cooked off whatever gas was in place,” he said.

There’s a line that exists, but nobody knows exactly where it is, Mr. Myers said.*

We’ll soon know if the line is above or below Luzerne County. And if Encana’s gamble pays off, you can be sure Chesapeake Energy and Williams Production Appalachia, both with dozens of leases in the area, will jump in too.

*Scranton Times Tribune (July 5) – Results of Luzerne natural gas test wells awaited