Pennsylvania is expected to end the year as the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States, according to gubernatorial candidate John Hanger, who has previously served as head of both the state's Department of Environmental Protection and its Public Utility Commission.
Hangar cited estimates published by the Washington Post, which predicted that Pennsylvania's gas production will reach a "stunning" 3.2 trillion cubic feet by the end of 2013. This would mark a year-over-year increase of 50 percent, attributable to the bold moves the state has made to develop the reserves trapped in an underground rock formation that has quickly gone from being virtually unknown to the most productive shale in America, measured in terms of gas output.
The Post noted that for several years, "there was a highly publicized debate over the potential of the Marcellus Shale, with some contending that the industry had exaggerated the numbers. But the actual production figures have mostly put that debate to rest."
As we noted in a previous post, the promise of ongoing economic benefits has driven a growing number of states in the region to develop their sections of the shale formation.
Despite an impressive increase in gas production from 2009 to 2011, Louisiana's output remained relatively flat in 2012. As the state is not expected to produce significantly more this year compared to the 3 trillion cubic feet produced last year, it seems all but certain that it will lose its status as the second-largest U.S. gas producer to Pennsylvania by the end of 2013.
While Pennsylvania's natural gas production will remain far below that of Texas, which produced more than 7.8 trillion cubic feet—almost 30 percent of total U.S. production—in 2012, the state is stepping up as a reliable source of energy. If it reaches the 3.2 trillion prediction reported by the Post, the Keystone State will account for approximately 13 percent of domestic gas production in 2013.
This is a remarkable achievement, and one that would not be this close without recent advances in oil and gas production equipment. Going forward, it will be essential for well operators to work with solution providers to deploy hydraulic jet pumps and other advanced tools to maintain the gains that have been made in recent years and continue improving production capacity and efficiency.