PA Wells, Gas Production Increase

By: Michael K. Reer

On March 2, 2017, the Pennsylvania Independent Fiscal Office released its 2016 4th Quarter Natural Gas Production Report. The IFO found that production of natural gas increased 6.8% in Pennsylvania in 2016. Pennsylvania operators drilled just 504 horizontal wells in 2016, the lowest number since IFO tracking began in 2011. Despite the low number of spud wells, IFO found significant signs of an industry rebound. For example, the number of wells spud by quarter reached a low point in the second quarter of 2016 (72) before noticeably rebounding in the third (146) and fourth (176) quarters. Moreover, the number of spud but not completed wells fell 5.1% in 2016 as operators completed wells drilled in prior years. Also, production from wells spud in 2014 began declining in 2016, by nearly 2%, which may incentivize operators to drill additional wells.

Susquehanna and Washington counties were the top producing counties in 2016, followed by Bradford, Greene, Lycoming, Wyoming, Tioga, Butler, Sullivan, and Fayette. The Commonwealth currently trails only Texas in domestic natural gas production.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection announced March 3, 2017 that the Department has launched an iPad app for electronic field inspections at oil and natural gas production sites. The app will replace paper and clipboard inspections and allow operators to receive inspection results concerning erosion and sedimentation, waterways encroachment, waste management, and spill cleanup in a more timely fashion.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017

USGS Releases PA Test Results

By: Michael K. Reer

On March 6, 2017, the U.S. Geological Survey released the test results of 75 private drinking water wells in Lycoming County, in north-central Pennsylvania. USGS found that water from most of the sampled wells contain concentrations of radon that exceed a proposed, non-binding health standard for drinking water and that some wells contain concentrations of arsenic or methane that exceed existing drinking water standards.

USGS states in its press release that the tests were carried out in 2014, in part, to assess the natural characteristics of local groundwater and the potential effects of land uses, including natural gas production, on local water supplies. Significantly, USGS found that water wells near unconventional development were of similar quality to water wells previously sampled in Wayne County – where unconventional development is not permitted.

Pennsylvania does not have comprehensive regulations governing the drilling and maintenance of private drinking water wells. The relatively high number of naturally contaminated water wells in the Commonwealth highlights the importance of conducting comprehensive water quality sampling prior to unconventional development.
Tuesday, March 07, 2017

PA Alleges Salamanders Harmed By Spill


On February 22, 2017, Penn Live reported that Pennsylvania District Judge Jerry C. Lepley sent a summons to two oil and natural gas companies concerning an alleged leak of flowback water in Lycoming County. According to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, the two companies allowed over 1,000 gallons of flowback water to discharge into a nearby unnamed tributary, resulting in the deaths of an estimated 169 salamanders. The Fish and Boat Commission has also stated that tests of the tributary where the discharge allegedly occurred have revealed barium, chloride, and strontium. Although the Penn Live article does not specify what species the salamanders belonged to, green salamanders are currently listed as “Pennsylvania Threatened” by the Pennsylvania Natural Heritage Program.

The companies must appear in court on March 8, 2017.
Thursday, February 23, 2017

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