From the Associated Press:
By Kevin Begos
Natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale region is growing faster than expected, according to a new federal report issued Tuesday.
Marcellus production has now reached 12 billion cubic feet a day, the Energy Information Administration report found. That’s the energy equivalent of about 2 million barrels of oil a day, and more than six times the 2009 production rate.
For perspective, if the Marcellus Shale region were a country, its natural gas production would rank third in the world, after Russia and the rest of the U.S. The Marcellus now produces more than double Iran’s yearly natural gas output, and that glut has led to wholesale prices here that are about one-quarter of those in Japan, for example.
The vast majority of the Marcellus gas is coming from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The shale also lies under other states, but most of the wells in Ohio produce oil, and New York has placed a moratorium on shale gas drilling.
Federal energy experts are surprised by the rapid Marcellus growth, since the number of drilling rigs has fallen over the past two years.
“A year ago, we were not expecting the Marcellus to be at 12 billion cubic feet,” said Sam Gorgen of the EIA, which is a part of the Department of Energy.
The current Marcellus production is even higher than the predictions of Terry Engelder, a Penn State University geologist who has drawn praise and criticism for his estimates of how much gas the region holds. Engelder had predicted that the Marcellus wouldn’t reach the 12 billion cubic foot rate until 2015, and some critics said that was overly optimistic.
“This is spectacular, relative to what we thought a few years ago,” Engelder said of the roughly 4,000 wells in Pennsylvania that are producing.
The EIA also looked at the decline rate of the Marcellus wells, since most of the gas is produced during their first two years.
“It’s interesting that it’s not falling as steeply” as other shale fields such as the Bakken in North Dakota or Eagle Ford in Texas, Gorgen said.
Travis Windle, a spokesman for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, said “shale production continues to soar” in the region, and the number of active drilling rigs is slowly increasing, too.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.