Marcellus Production Continues to Surge, Providing National and Local Benefits

Record-shattering amounts of clean-burning, job-creating American natural gas and natural gas liquids continue to be safely produced from the Marcellus Shale, according to a report from the federal government this week.

In its monthly Drilling Productivity Report, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that Marcellus Shale natural gas production will surge to an astounding 14,225 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d). This from Platts:

  • Net gas production across six significant gas-producing basins rose by about 221,000 Mcf/d in December compared with the previous month, according to EIA’s monthly drilling productivity report, released Monday. The report, which measures activity in five shale gas plays as well as the Permian Basin, found that month-over-month gas production grew in three of the plays studied and declined in three. The Marcellus Shale led the increase in gas production, increasing by about 261,000 Mcf/d in December to 13.46 Bcf/d compared with the previous month.

And in a separate EIA report issued this week under the headline “U.S. boosts natural gas output and use since 2005,” the agency highlights this key fact: “As a result of robust production growth in the United States, U.S. net imports in 2012 fell to the lowest level since 1990.” Indeed, as Bloomberg News reports this week, “The U.S. shale boom happened much faster than people thought. We’re in the middle of a new game.”

This revolution is creating enormous benefits for our region — especially rural communities — and the nation:

  • COMMUNITY INVESTMENT, ECONOMIC GROWTH: In Washington County, officials say the unexpected revenue stream is letting them make improvements that otherwise might not have been possible. “Having that funding source has been a tremendous boom to us,” said Lisa Cessna, the executive director of the local planning commission. The county has received about $10 million directly from drilling companies since 2007, and royalty payments are still coming in. That’s helped build fishing piers, playgrounds and walking trails. … Allegheny County, has approved drilling on or under thousands of acres of public land at the international airport and in county parks, in deals that have the potential to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars over the next two decades. Drilling could start within the next year, and the county has already received a $46 million signing bonus. Pennsylvania has also allowed some gas drilling in state forests since 1947 and since 2008 has signed several major new shale gas leases for almost 139,000 acres of public land. So far those leases have generated about $413 million for the state. … “We’re trying to be careful. We welcome drilling, but it’s been done safely,” [Democratic county commissioner Larry] Maggi said. “We’re just not seeing the damage to the environment that some people say.” Maggi added that the local boom is “giving good family-sustaining jobs to young men and women” and is helping many local businesses, even turning some people into millionaires. (Associated Press, 1/12/13)

 Photos: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

  • UNION CONSTRUCTION JOBS: Powered by extensive Marcellus and Utica shale processing and pipelining infrastructure, the Wheeling Metropolitan Statistical Area saw construction investments grow from $60.3 million in 2012 to $1.72 billion in 2013.”I see another 5-10 years of construction like this,” said Keith Hughes, business manager at Ironworkers Local No. 549 in Wheeling. “It has been tremendous for our area and we appreciate all of the work we are getting.” Williams Energy will eventually invest a total of $4.5 billion for Utica and Marcellus shale natural gas processing infrastructure in Marshall County, while Blue Racer Midstream and MarkWest Energy continue working on similar ambitious projects throughout the Upper Ohio Valley. (Wheeling News-Register, 1/14/13)