The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Natural Gas: PA Prospers, NY Delays Development

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted November 2, 2010

The United States is blessed with an abundance of clean-burning natural gas. It provides fuel for industry, power for heating, and chemicals for plastics, medicines and a wide variety of consumer products, such bicycle helmets and hospital supplies, that make Americans safer, healthier, and more comfortable. At the current rate of consumption, it's estimated that the United States has enough natural gas to last about 100 years.

To maintain a steady supply of natural gas for U.S. consumers, energy companies must drill thousands of wells. And each well makes a valuable contribution to the economy by generating government revenues, jobs, and much-needed energy resources for American families.

Consider the benefits of a single well in Susquehanna County, Penn., which borders New York State. It is the most productive well in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale formation. Developed by a subsidiary of Chesapeake Energy Corp., and called Clapper 2H, the well produced 2.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas in nine months of operation, which is enough natural gas to heat 29,600 homes for a year.

A new Pennsylvania database available to the public here illustrates the sharp increase in the Keystone state's natural gas development in recent months. (The Philadelphia Inquirer) It shows:

  • Since 2005, 2,300 Marcellus Shale wells have been drilled in the state.
  • Marcellus Shale wells produced about 180 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2009.
  • Susquehanna and Bradford Counties produced about half of the state's Marcellus Shale gas.

Those two counties lie next to New York's southern border. Yet, while Pennsylvania reaps the benefits of natural gas development, New York is not issuing drilling permits in the Marcellus region while it examines the impact of drilling, and the legislature is considering a measure that could have the effect of prohibiting drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

By delaying new natural gas drilling, New York officials are denying their states' residents the economic, workforce and security benefits provided by energy development. They should rethink their position and allow energy companies to do what they do best--supply a steady stream of clean-burning natural gas to American consumers.