2017-09-09 / Front Page

Gas driller confirms ‘game changer’


A decade after signs of a natural gas “boom” could be coming in northcentral Pennsylvania, drillers are reporting that they may have found the motherlode. Early results from Utica shale drilling, much deeper than the vaunted Marcellus shale, have energy companies changing their strategies and brightening their production forecasts. A decade after signs of a natural gas “boom” could be coming in northcentral Pennsylvania, drillers are reporting that they may have found the motherlode. Early results from Utica shale drilling, much deeper than the vaunted Marcellus shale, have energy companies changing their strategies and brightening their production forecasts. A second shale gas-drilling company has confirmed what geologists and speculators have suspected – there is a bounty of natural gas locked in Utica shale formations two miles or deeper underground in Potter, Cameron, Tioga and other north-central Pennsylvania counties.

On the heels of an optimistic forecast by JKLM Energy, which is active in Potter County, Seneca Resources is now confirming that the Utica has all the signs of a game-changer. “We are transitioning from Marcellus shale development to a Utica development program,” said spokesman Rob Boulware. “Our initial Utica results in Cameron, McKean and Elk counties indicate that reserves are significantly higher than those in our Marcellus wells.”

Seneca has five Utica wells in the Rich Valley/Clermont area of Cameron and McKean counties, and more are coming. The company will return to well pads it has used for Marcellus development and drill down to the deeper Utica shale, Boulware confirmed.

The company owns 20,000 acres of rights in the northwest part of Cameron County on which it has already drilled about two dozen shale gas wells. Seneca has been holding billions of cubic feet of gas underground, in anticipation of better market conditions and increased pipeline capacity. Meanwhile, Boulware said a Utica shale test well drilled on state forest land in Tioga County produced eye-opening results:

“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.”

Seneca also has gas holdings in Potter County and is likely to pursue those as infrastructure is developed and business strategies warrant.

At the same time, Seneca has joined other Pennsylvania gas producers in warning that air quality standards and other regulations proposed by the Pa. Dept. of Environmental Protection (DEP), as well as legislative proposals for additional taxes on shale gas production, would penalize drillers and slow industry growth.

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