December 18, 2013

Marcellus Shale drilling becomes more efficient

Source: The Philadelphia Inquirer, December 15, 2013
Posted on:

When David Dewberry landed in Pennsylvania in 2010, the veteran of the migratory worldwide oil-and-gas workforce said he required more than a month to drill a typical Marcellus Shale natural gas well.

On Dec. 4, a crew under Dewberry’s direction dug into the mountaintop of a state forest near here with a diamond-studded drill bit. Dewberry reckons it will require only 16 days to finish drilling the well’s full length, more than 21/2 miles.

“Since I came up here three years ago, it’s 200 percent better,” said Dewberry, who manages this Lycoming County site in Loyalsock State Forest for Seneca Resources Corp.

The well not only will require half the time to drill, the bore will extend farther horizontally than older wells. And, if it performs like other wells in the area, it will produce a staggering amount of gas.

When it’s done, the towering rig will crawl 20 feet and begin drilling another well. Seneca plans to complete nine wells in an assembly-line fashion on this site, which is the size of five football fields.

“We’ve become so much more efficient,” Dewberry said.

Marcellus Shale exploration companies are drilling bigger wells in less time at less cost, and they are producing more natural gas than ever in Pennsylvania.…

August 6, 2013

Pennsylvania drillers eye shale layers atop Marcellus

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 31, 2013
Posted on:

The question of fracking the shale layers above and below the Marcellus has transitioned from an “if” to a “when” for many oil and gas operators in Pennsylvania. On that, they agree; how to do it is another story.

In recent discussions with analysts, executives at three of southwestern Pennsylvania’s largest oil and gas firms shared contrasting views about what they believe happens when two wells are fracked on top of each other.

They were talking about their companies’ experiments with the Upper Devonian formation, which is a group of shales that lies only a few hundred feet above the Marcellus.

Downtown-based EQT Corp. has changed its strategy after monitoring four Upper Devonian wells for a few years. Rather than drill Marcellus wells now and come back for the Upper Devonian bounty later, the company decided to drill more of these shallower shale wells at the same time as the Marcellus ones.

Their Upper Devonian wells aren’t the most stellar in terms of gas production, executives said, but it makes sense in the context of an already constructed well pad and paved access road, with all the necessary equipment already on site, to toss another horizontal spoke into the ground.

Philip Conti, EQT’s CFO, told investors that waiting too long after the Marcellus is fracked before tapping the Upper Devonian could deplete the shallower formation or cause interference between the two.…

April 11, 2013

Revisiting the Facts on Fracking

Source: The New York Times, April 9, 2013

In their op-ed “The Facts on Fracking” (Views, March 14), Susan Brantley and Anna Meyendorff use a highly speculative estimate of the gas supply in the Marcellus shale of Eastern America that prevailed for years at the U.S. Energy Department. Using actual results from drilled wells, in 2011 U.S. government geologists slashed the Energy Department figures by about two-thirds.

The writers’ more troubling claim is a well failure rate of “1 to 2 percent.” Last fall, researchers at Cornell University compiled data from Pennsylvania regulators’ reports to confirm failure rates due to faulty cement and/or casing of 6 to 8.9 percent each year since 2010. These were wells just completed, from which methane could migrate into the atmosphere as a green-house gas or contaminate aquifers.

Methane in aquifers has found its way into homes via water wells. Many American families have seen their property values vaporize and their homes rendered unlivable. Drilling companies have settled numerous lawsuits.

Earlier industry studies suggest that over time, cement or casing in half the wells drilled may eventually fail. While calamities from leaky wells are unusual — small comfort if it affects your drinking water, or the water in your favorite stream — let us recognize the magnitude of risk: More than 6,000 wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania, with 100,000 planned. A dozen states have industrial drilling.

Paul Roberts Friendsville, Maryland

Winemaker and citizen representative on a state commission studying shale gas development in Maryland.…

March 27, 2013

Marcellus Production Tops Haynesville

Source:, March 18, 2013
By: Susan Phillips

A Cabot Oil and Gas drill rig at night in Susquehanna County.

Pipeline expansions serving the Marcellus Shale gas boom have helped boost production rates above seven billion cubic feet a day, according to an analysis by IHS. The report says the Marcellus now leads the Haynesville Shale as the most productive shale play in the country. The Haynesville Shale formation stretches beneath northwestern Louisiana, eastern Texas and southwestern Arkansas.

The largest winners according to IHS are two companies that began tapping the Marcellus ahead of the pack — Range Resources and Cabot Oil and Gas.

“These companies have created significant shareholder value through low-cost, efficient growth that has been commensurate with the explosion of production coming from the Marcellus,” said Bryan McNamara, principal energy analyst at IHS.

But McNamara also says not every driller has enjoyed this type of success.

The report says low natural gas prices have driven down the number of rigs operating in the Marcellus resulting in a 30 percent drop in the number of wells drilled in 2012, as compared to the previous year. The number of permits to drill, however only dropped by five percent in 2012. Gas prices are expected to rise in 2013, according to the report. So, Marcellus production may rise as well.

The top five drilling counties include Bradford, Lycoming, Susquehanna, Tioga and Washington county.

“In this case, we anticipate drilling activity picking up across all five counties,” said Bryan McNamara in an IHS release. “As for Range Resources and Cabot Oil and Gas, with both companies holding non-proven Marcellus resource potential nearly five times current proved reserves, we expect continued operational success and high production growth to remain value drivers.”

Cabot Oil and Gas concentrates its efforts in the northeast part of the state with about 368 active wells. The company faced lawsuits and criticism after a number of residential water wells in Dimock were contaminated after drilling began. The Department of Environmental Protection blamed Cabot for faulty well construction. The company says their actions did not cause the contamination, which they say was present before drilling began.

Range Resources has also run into trouble with their neighbors in Washington County, where the company actively drills. Range has about 882 active wells, primarily in the western part of the state. Range Resources has also been accused of contaminating water and air by residents living near their drilling sites. And the company has battled local officials over zoning.…

March 22, 2012

Federal lawsuit filed over drilling in Granger Township

Source: The Medina-Gazette, March 15, 2012
By: Jennifer Pignolet

Two Granger Township couples filed federal lawsuits against Landmark 4 LLC seeking damages for contamination of their properties they allege is from hydraulic gas and oil drilling in the area.

On Tuesday, Mark and Sandra Mangan and William and Stephanie Boggs filed separate suits in U.S. District Court.

In December, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services determined the two State Road homes pose a public health hazard because of methane gas in the water lines.

According to the lawsuits, Landmark 4, began operating two gas wells at Allardale Park, about a half-mile from the two properties, in 2008.

A news release from Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co. LPA, the law firm representing the couples, said its clients contend they have lost value on their homes as well as quality of life as a result of fracking gone wrong.

“The Plaintiffs charge that Landmark 4 LLC was negligent in the drilling, construction and operation of the Allard Wells and allowed pollutants, including fracking fluid, to be discharged into the ground or into the waters near Plaintiffs’ homes and water wells,” the release said. “The lawsuits further allege that the plaintiffs’ water wells have been contaminated, and that they have been and continue to be exposed to hazardous chemicals, including barium, manganese and strontium.”

Sandra Mangan said Wednesday the families were deferring all comments to their attorneys.…

January 24, 2012

Environmental groups, McKeesport settle Marcellus-related lawsuit

Source:, January 24, 2012

Two environmental groups and McKeesport’s municipal authority have settled a federal lawsuit that claimed the city was violating state and federal environmental laws by treating wastewater from Marcellus shale drilling operations, according to court documents.

Attorneys for both sides and representatives for the city, the municipal authority, Clean Water Action and Three Rivers Waterkeeper couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer ordered the case closed Monday after the attorneys said they reached a settlement.

The judge’s order doesn’t provide any details of the settlement.

The two groups claimed that McKeesport’s sewage treatment plant was accepting drilling wastewater even though its permit doesn’t provide for the treatment of industrial waste. The state Department of Environmental Protection in April asked drillers to stop sending wastewater to municipal sewage treatment plants and asked plants to stop accepting the wastewater.…

October 26, 2011

Promise and Pitfalls of the Marcellus Drilling

Source:, October 15, 2011
By: Rob Hughes

For engineers and construction professionals, Marcellus Shale presents enticing opportunities, but firms need to weigh risks and seek the advice of a broker as pollution liability insurance policies differ by carrier.

As engineering firms and construction professionals seek to capitalize on opportunities presented by the growing number of exploration and development projects in Marcellus Shale, they need to assess carefully the unique and potentially significant exposures associated with them.

With efforts to tap the substantial natural gas resources available in Marcellus Shale continuing to expand, concerns also are widening among area residents and municipalities with respect to the related environmental issues. Engineering and construction firms involved in exploration and development projects need to be able to assess their risks with some degree of precision and take steps to mitigate them.

For these firms, an effective risk assessment must contemplate not only the indemnification clauses and other potential contractual exposures associated with their Marcellus Shale agreements, but federal and evolving state environmental regulations, pending and recent court decisions on Marcellus Shale issues, and the language and exclusions in their liability insurance policies.

The numerous and potentially substantial risks associated with natural gas operations include: craterings; explosions; uncontrollable flows of natural gas or well fluids; fires; formations with abnormal pressures; pipeline ruptures or spills; pollution; and releases of toxic natural gas and other environmental hazards and risks.…