2017-02-18 / Front Page

Seneca Resources readies for natural gas bounty

Seneca Resources expects to restart its shale gas-drilling activities in the region this summer.

“So far, we have had a good start to 2017,” company spokesman Rob Boulware reported last week. “Weather patterns that were closer to normal -- colder than last year -- have helped to bolster sales and revenue.”

Seneca has been active in Cameron, Potter and five other Pennsylvania counties. The company owns 20,000 acres of rights in the northwest part of Cameron County on which it has drilled about two dozen shale gas wells. However, as gas prices fell and remained low, the company scaled back its operations. It now has just one drilling rig operating across the Appalachian Basin. Meanwhile, Seneca has capped many of its wells, holding billions of cubic feet of gas in anticipation of better market conditions and increased pipeline capacity.

Seneca got a boost last week with federal approval of the Northern Access and Atlantic Sunrise pipelines.

“If these projects stay on track, Seneca could return to a three-rig operation to meet pipeline commitments,” Boulware explained. He also said the company is encouraged by the results of a Utica Shale test well recently drilled on state forest land in Tioga County.

“This is among the most productive wells in northeastern Pennsylvania,” Boulware noted. “It is flowing into the Tennessee pipeline line at about 15 million cubic feet per day, and the potential of that tract is estimated at more than 1.1 trillion cubic feet over 75- plus well locations.”

He added that the financial implications are eye-opening. Seneca has paid nearly $223 million in royalty payments across Cameron, Potter, McKean, Tioga, Elk, Lycoming and Clarion counties since 2012. The company has also paid $45 million in “impact fees” levied by the state, and has spent more than $711 million with Pennsylvania businesses.

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