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Pennsylvania Oil/Gas Development Declined in State Forests Last Year

Oil and natural gas development on Pennsylvania's state-owned forestland appeared to decline last year, according to data presented on Thursday by state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Dunn.

Dunn delivered an update before the state's 21-member Natural Gas Advisory Committee, which was formed to advise on natural gas management in state forests. Although Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf enacted a moratorium on new oil and gas leases for state-owned forests in January, industry activity is ongoing across some of the 2.2 million acres managed by the state (see Shale DailyJan. 29).

Dunn said from 2013 to 2014, however, that activity declined. In 2013, 79 new wells were approved for drilling on state forestland. At the end of 2014, only 47 had been approved. Oil and gas management has been part of the state forest system since 1947. As of 2014, Dunn said, 1,020 wells have been approved, while 608 have been drilled.

Most of those have been drilled horizontally since 2008, when DCNR held its first competitive gas lease sale for the Marcellus Shale. Dunn delivered the data and her remarks as part of an update on the state's Shale Gas Monitoring Report, which was initiated in 2010 to track the effects of oil and gas development in state forests (see Shale DailyApril 16, 2014).

DCNR said 19 new well pads were constructed in 2013 encompassing 73 acres. Eight well pads were constructed last year encompassing 32 acres. Four miles of roads were constructed in state forests in 2013 for oil and gas development, while less than one mile of road was constructed last year.

But 66 acres were converted for pipeline rights-of-way in 2014, compared to 49 acres that were converted for the infrastructure in 2013.

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