The talk coming from the largest drillers in the Marcellus Shale is that they will scale back drilling activities in the dry (methane only) portions of the Marcellus Shale play and instead focus on the wet (liquids-rich) portion.
Ever wonder where, exactly, the liquids-rich area can be found? We now know where it is for Range Resources, one of the largest drillers in Pennsylvania. We also have an estimate of how long drilling in the dry gas portion of the Marcellus may be pushed back for Range due to low prices for natural gas.
Increasingly, you will read on MDN and in press accounts about natural gas liquids (NGLs), and how major energy companies are now focused on drilling in the “liquids-rich” portion of the Marcellus and Utica Shales. The geography of where NGLs are found is typically western Pennsylvania, the West Virginia panhandle and eastern Ohio. But, just what are NGLs anyway? A helpful article on The Motley Fool website provides an excellent summary:
Dr. Gary G. Lash, Department of Geosciences Professor at SUNY Fredonia and Director of the SUNY Fredonia Shale Research Institute, doesn’t often grant interviews. But he recently opened up with reporter from the Dunkirk (NY) Observer about the science, and politics, of hydraulic fracturing. Dr. Lash is an international authority on the Marcellus, so when he talks, people listen!
Commenting on the fracking debate in New York State, he said:
In the complicated, ongoing story of fracking wastewater treatment in Warren, Ohio, the existing permit that allows the Warren Water Pollution Control Facility (sewage treatment plant) to dispose of treated brine water in the Mahoning River expires today. But because the renewal of the permit is something that has been appealed, according to Ohio EPA rules, the facility can continue to accept brine water from fracking.
Pipelines are a necessary part of drilling for and transporting shale gas. But they can also be one of the most contentious parts—especially when the government confers the power of eminent domain to a pipeline company who then can force landowners to accept the pipeline, weakening their bargaining position. A recent example is the MARC 1 in northeast Pennsylvania, a key piece of infrastructure for the Marcellus Shale. The MARC 1 is a high-pressure 30 inch steel pipeline that will connect to major interstate pipelines and to a gas storage facility in southern New York state.
Magnum Hunter, a Houston, TX-based independent exploration and production company, issued an operational update for Q4 2011 yesterday. Following is the section reporting on their drilling operations in the Appalachian/Marcellus region: