Pa. Natural Gas Production, Overall Safety Soar in 2015

Pennsylvania natural gas output continues to break records, as more than 4.6 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of this clean-burning domestic resource was safely produced in 2015, according to a new Pa. DEP report. And as natural gas production soared by 318% since 2011, overall regulatory compliance metrics reflect the industry’s second-to-none commitment to environmental and operational safety as well as the Commonwealth’s strong regulations.

DEPProductionReport2015

Commenting on this progress, MSC president Dave Spigelmyer saidthe report details a number of the collaborative successes that our industry, working closely with key stakeholders including regulators, continues to make as it relates to protecting our environment while producing prolific amounts of clean-burning American natural gas.

Key Report Takeaways

  • Strong, Sustained Energy Production Growth: “In 2015, more than 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was produced in Pennsylvania.” (p. 6)
  • Drilling Levels Down, While Inspections Soar By 151%: From 2010 through 2015, DEP inspections increased for unconventional development from 5,245 to 13,186 – a 151% increase. (p.18-19)
  • Notice of Violations Down 67%: During the same period (2010-2015), violations at unconventional well sites dramatically decreased from 1,280 in 2010 to 404 in 2015 – a 67% reduction. (p. 18-19)
  • Zero Confirmed Stray Gas Cases: In 2015, there were no confirmed stray gas cases. (p. 22)
  • Zero Drinking Water Impacts: Additionally, there was not a single confirmed case of impacted drinking water supplies from gas migration events. (p. 23)

This report further reinforces the fact that Pa.’s modernized regulatory framework is working as designed, and that even higher energy taxes and unnecessary, burdensome regulations would jeopardize this important environmental and economic progress.

Here’s what they’re saying:

  • Pa. Produces “Record Output” of Natural Gas: The volume of natural gas produced in Pennsylvania last year increased to a record level despite a drastic downturn nationwide in the drilling industry. The state DEP on Monday released its annual report that showed more than 4.6 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was produced last year. That is a record amount and drastically higher than the 1 trillion cubic feet produced in 2011. … Patrick McDonnell, acting secretary of the DEP, said Pennsylvania remained as the second-largest supplier of natural gas in the nation. He added the amount produced in the state last year is enough to power 62 million households annually. … MSC’s Dave Spigelmyer said in a statement Monday that the report contained many impressive findings, including the fact that there were no drinking water impacts or violations as a result of drilling last year in Pennsylvania. He added that production numbers soared despite “harsh market challenges,” while also commenting that regulations and safeguards installed to protect the environment are “working as designed.” To illustrate that, Spigelmyer noted that DEP performed a record number of well inspections last year, and “overall regulatory compliance is at a five-year high and trending in the right direction.” (Beaver County Times, 8/2/16)
  • Pa. Shale Production Drives American Energy Security: Despite a downturn in prices for natural gas and fewer wells drilled, Pa.’s production of the fuel continued to rise in 2015 to 4.6 trillion cubic feet, nearly five times as much as was produced in the state in 2011. … The DEP also found despite the record output of gas from both shale and conventional wells, violations continued to decline. … The report notes that since 2008, Pa.’s natural gas production has increased dramatically, resulting in increased energy security because of less dependence on fossil fuels from other parts of the world. … The reason for the abundant and continually growing production is because of gas produced from a dozen geologic formations below Pa.’s land surface, most notably, from the Marcellus shale formation, from which nearly 4.5 tcf was generated in 2015 alone. … MSC’s David Spigelmyer said the report details “a number of the collaborative successes that our industry, working closely with key stakeholders including regulators, continues to make as it relates to protecting our environment while producing prolific amounts of clean-burning American natural gas. At the same time, while DEP’s performed a record number of inspections, overall regulatory compliance is at a five-year high and trending in the right direction.” (Observer-Reporter, 8/2/16)
  • “More Gas with Less Wells”: Natural gas production in Pa. is up despite a drop in the number of new wells. The DEP released its 2015 annual oil and gas report on Monday, detailing such things as the number of wells drilled, locations, and inspections. The state’s shale wells produced 4.6 Tcf of natural gas in 2015, marking a continued increase since the start of the shale gas boom. This happened despite a drop in newly drilled wells. … DEP also reports that while both conventional and unconventional well inspections have increased since 2008, the number of violations has decreased. (StateImpact PA, 8/1/16)
  • New Resources Make Meaningful Contributions to Production: The Upper Devonian and Utica shales contributed meaningfully for the first time to Pa.’s natural gas output in 2015, according to an annual oil and gas report that was released on Monday by the DEP. The state’s shale drillers produced more than 4.6 Tcf of natural gas in 2015, up from the 4.05 Tcf they produced in the prior year and well above the 1.06 Tcf they produced in 2011. While the Marcellus Shale remained the top-producing formation, contributing 4.5 Tcf of natural gas to the unconventional total, companies reported producing 47.2 Bcf from the Upper Devonian and 53.5 Bcf from the Utica. (Natural Gas Intelligence, 8/1/16)

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