Not every property that’s leased gets drilled on. But “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to say, is that not every Marcellus Shale well that is drilled actually produces. If a company decides to drill, landowners are excited, with good reason. But best to temper that excitement with the statistic that a certain percentage (MDN has heard as high as 10%) of the wells drilled never end up producing. That was the case recently in Luzerne County, PA where Encana has abandoned two wells—the “Salansky” and “Buda” wells.
Robert Anderson and his wife Debra live on Zosh Road in Lake Township, right next to Encana’s Salansky well. When it was drilled last summer, they put up with around-the-clock noise, dirt and odor.
The dirt pile will be gone before long, and now the Andersons have their peace and quiet back – as well as the lease for their property.
Encana started releasing people from their leases on Feb. 18, according to records from the Luzerne County Recorder of Deeds office. They started with the ones taken out first, so the Andersons and their neighbor down the street Barbara Neare already received theirs.
"I was counting on that money," Robert Anderson said. "Everybody could use the money, with the economy the way it is."*
The former Encana leaseholders have a small glimmer of hope. There are several other drilling companies in the area with active operations—and the former leaseholders may get new leases should some of those other operations prove successful.
Why don’t some wells produce? It has to do with the way the shale layer was formed.
The conditions that, millions of years ago, formed the hard coal Luzerne and Lackawanna counties were known for also tended to "cook" natural gas out of the Marcellus Shale, according to geologists.
[Gary Ide, spokesman for the pro-gas Citizens for Cleaner Energy], admitted people have come to terms with the idea Luzerne County has a reduced amount of natural gas.
The question is where the shale starts being productive, and Ide believes "there still is a lot to be determined as to finding that edge."
"Who knows who’s going to be in that lucky strike area?" he said. "There are probably things being mapped out on every well they sink. They’re making a pattern, a map, and trying to find out where the good areas are."*
*The Citizen’s Voice (Mar 21, 2011) – Former leaseholders ask ‘Now what?’