New Strategy: CNX Blends Marcellus/Utica Gas, Eliminates Processing

Another interesting story coming from this week’s DUG East Conference in Pittsburgh. CNX Resources (formerly CONSOL Energy), is beginning to use a new strategy of mixing together the natural gas produced from two different rock layers–the Marcellus and Utica. Why do that? The “gas” CNX gets from their Marcellus wells is “damp”–which is a new term for us. Everyone else would call it “wet”–as in there are extra hydrocarbons in the gas, like ethane, propane, butane, etc. In other words, NGLs (natural gas liquids). Interestingly, the Utica wells CNX is drilling in southwestern PA are “dry”–meaning relatively little if any NGLs coming out of the ground along with the methane. By mixing the two together, damp and dry, CNX dilutes the mixture enough that it’s pipeline ready and goes directly to market. That is, the gas doesn’t have to be transported via pipeline (which costs money) to a gas processing plant to remove the extra hydrocarbons (which costs more money). Typically if you can get a good price for those other hydrocarbons, it’s worth the extra transportation and processing costs. But with NGL prices low, and with few markets for ethane (the primary NGL extracted) right now, other than exporting it out of the area, CNX’s “blending” strategy lowers their costs and gets the gas to market quicker. Here’s the beauty of it: CNX can drill both Marcellus and Utica wells on the very same pad, and blend the gas together right at the pad. Less cost and faster to market sounds like a good strategy to us…

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