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Energy

Driller Cabot says Pennsylvania gas wells are "gushing"

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Gas rigs like this one have appeared across Pennsylvania, and drillers say production is meeting expectations.

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Two gas wells in northeastern Pennsylvania have set records for gas driller Cabot.

The wells - which went online in May - each started off producing almost 30 million cubic feet of natural gas.

If you do some long-division, those production numbers mean that every day, each well is producing just shy of enough gas to provide a minute of natural gas energy to the entire United States.Cabot (the same company accused of contaminating water wells in northeast Pennsylvania) says equipment upgrades helped it to reach the gas production milestones.
 

CEO Dan Dinges suggested in a statement [PDF] that the wells' output could have been even higher:

"[B]oth of these wells and others are choked back because we have reached another temporary maximum through-put rate into the Tennessee Gas Pipeline."

Meeting industry expectations

John Hanger, an energy consultant who headed Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Conservation through January, says the wells are part of a larger Marcellus play that's not just meeting but exceeding expectations in Pennsylvania.

"The two wells could be an exception in a disappointing play, but that's just not the case," Hanger says. "The Marcellus is proving to be the most productive, lowest-cost shale gas resource in North America."

Math matters

The volume of gas that can actually be extracted from the Marcellus Shale is a controversial talking point, since that number is crucial to the cost-benefit equation for drilling. Just this weekend, the New York Times reported about industry fears of a gas bubble.

The Associated Press reports that other drillers besides Cabot expect big things from the Marcellus Shale.

Fort Worth, Texas-based Range has boosted its estimate of the amount of natural gas it will ultimately be able to harvest from its Marcellus Shale wells, telling investors this month that it plans to triple production to 600 million cubic feet per day by the end of 2012. Another major player, Chesapeake Energy Corp., has likewise reported a dramatic increase in expected well production. Early on, the Oklahoma City-based driller predicted that each well would yield 3.5 billion cubic feet of gas over its life span. That amount has since doubled, to more than 7 billion cubic feet, and continues to go up.

This news comes out as leasing activity has slowed in Pennsylvania and more rigs are on the ground, trying to put in wells before fixed-term leases with landowners expire.

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