Marcellus natural gas production continues to increase


Gas production in Pennsylvania and West Virginia rose about 50 percent during the first six months of 2013, compared with last year, according to a new report from Bentek.

The energy market research firm Bentek recently released a new report examining year-to-date growth of natural gas production from the Marcellus shale. The company reported that production in Pennsylvania and West Virginia rose about 50 percent during the first six months of 2013, compared with last year.

Those states' governments have yet to release official figures for the first half of the year, but Bentek's reports are "considered very reliable by government and industry sources," according to the Associated Press.

Strong production figures point to potential shift in market dynamics

In a press release, Bentek energy analyst Diana Oswald noted that the increase in production has "outpaced [the firm's] expectations" so far this year, to the point that the rate of growth may be causing changes in national energy distribution patterns.

Specifically, Bentek found that production in the region has reached a level where it is "actually starting to displace" supplies from other areas. Prior the Marcellus boom, most of the natural gas consumed in the Northeast market was being supplied by pipelines extending from Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.

Now, a growing share of energy demand in the densely populated Northeast is being met by gas from the Marcellus. Bentek's analysts asserted that they even see potential for surplus resources to begin flowing to other markets in the near future.

Substantial number of new wells expected to begin producing soon

According to Tom Murphy, a director of the Penn State University Marcellus Center for Research & Outreach, there may be as many as 2,000 wells in the region that have been drilled but are not yet producing due to the need to establish pipeline connections. According to the AP, other estimates put the number of these wells closer to 1,000. Whatever the specific figure is, it's clear that once these sites become fully operational, they will bolster the Marcellus' already strong performance.

New York, Ohio and Maryland also sit atop the gas-rich shale, although lawmakers and regulatory authorities in these states have been reluctant to allow companies to employ the drilling technique – hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" – that would enable them to tap this bountiful resource.

Production in Ohio is expected to enter a period of faster growth during the next two years as momentum builds behind drilling activities and infrastructure development, but residents of New York are still waiting to see the conclusion of a long-running political drama centering on Governor Mario Cuomo, whose administration has continually come out with new reasons for delaying a final decision about whether to allow fracking in the state.

As more states seek to realize the value of their natural resources, working with independent technology consultants can help producers identify, acquire and effectively utilize the tools they need to achieve the best results.

The hydraulic jet pump is among the most powerful and versatile options available to well operators. This solution can be installed in straight, horizontal or deviated wells and remains effective at sites where problems with the completion of well casing would prove challenging to alternative technologies.