M-U’s Biggest Drillers Increase NGL Production for Extra Money

When a driller sinks a hole in the ground looking for one hydrocarbon–like natural gas–other hydrocarbons also come out of the ground. Sometimes its oil. Sometimes condensate. Sometimes natural gas liquids (NGLs), including ethane, propane, butane, pentane, etc. In northeast and central Pennsylvania where the Marcellus Shale is prolific, most of what comes out of the ground is just methane–or natural gas. However, in the southwestern portion of PA, and in the northern panhandle of WV and on into eastern OH, it’s a different story. They are considered “wet gas” areas because (depending on the county) the wells are prolific NGL producers. Most NGLs, like propane, fetch much higher prices than plain old methane. Typically ethane is the NGL that mostly comes out of the ground, but for many drillers ethane can’t (yet) be sold, so it’s considered a “waste” product, mixed into the methane stream to get rid of it. But that’s changing. There are now pipelines to carry ethane to facilities in both Philadelphia and to a cracker plant in Canada. There’s even a pipeline for ethane (and other NGLs) that goes all the way to the Gulf Coast (ATEX, Appalachia to Texas). Some of the largest Marcellus/Utica drillers now have markets for their NGLs, so they are ramping up production and selling more NGLs. In fact, six of the eight largest M-U drillers increased their NGL production in the second quarter of 2017 compared to 2Q16. Which six increased, and which two decreased NGL production last quarter?…

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