Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in the northeastern and northcentral part of Pennsylvania led the state in output in 2009, and exceeded some energy industry forecasts, according to well production data issued for the first time.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) reported that between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010 Pennsylvania's 632 wells in the Marcellus play produced 180 Bcf of natural gas. Operators in the Marcellus Shale now are required to report their production data to DEP every six months under a law signed by Gov. Ed Rendell in March (see Daily GPI, March 25).

DEP was expected to issue its first report by Nov. 1, and the earlier posting online allows the public for the first time to see how much gas is being produced from the prolific shale play, which extends well beyond Pennsylvania.

Eight of the 10 best wells on production in the past year were reported to be in Susquehanna County. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC's Clapper 2H well in Auburn Township led all others with production of 2.8 Bcf/d over 270 days. According to DEP, of the top 20 producing wells, all but one were in Susquehanna, Bradford or Tioga counties.

John Harper, who heads the mineral resources division of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, said the Marcellus Shale wells that produced gas in the last fiscal year averaged almost 2 MMcf/d, which was better than the earliest wells in the play, which produced an average of only 89 Mcf/d.

By comparison, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) reported that total gas production from January through December 2009 in the state's Barnett Shale was 1,767 Bcf. The Barnett Shale accounted for one-quarter of the state's gas output in 2009, RRC officials said.

According to Pennsylvania State University, gas produced in the Marcellus last year was worth around $720 million. If a 5% severance had been levied on the value of all Marcellus gas produced in the last fiscal year, it would have earned the state around $40.5 million, according to Harper.

However, chances the severance tax proposed by the governor will pass the legislature were fading as the November elections approached (see separate story).

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