Consol Energy Inc. began its shift toward liquids in the first quarter, moving into the wet-gas portions of the Marcellus and Utica shales of southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

While the Pittsburgh-based company focused on dry gas targets in the previous three years, the company now wants half of its wells this year to target liquids-rich plays, including wells in Ohio that could test the boundaries between the wet gas and oil windows (see Shale Daily, Jan. 27).

Alone and through its joint ventures, Consol drilled 22 Marcellus wells in the first quarter and brought four online; it participated in four wells drilled by Noble Energy Inc. into the play.

In southwestern Pennsylvania, Consol is currently running four rigs.

The company drilled five wells in Westmoreland County, three wells at its new development in Jefferson County and 10 wells at its full-scale development in Greene County during the first quarter. One of the Greene County wells, the Morris 9D, peaked on April 9 at 10.5 MMcf/d.

Consol is also running one rig in northern West Virginia, where it drilled four wells in Upshur and Barbour counties during the first quarter. It expects to complete those wells in the second quarter. Those operated wells come in addition to the five Noble-operated wells in Marshall County, WV.

Through its joint venture with Hess Corp., Consol completed its first Utica Shale well in western Tuscarawas County, OH, but isn’t releasing results yet (see Shale Daily, Sept. 8, 2011). Tuscarawas is contiguous to the western border of Carroll and Harrison counties — where Chesapeake Energy Corp. drilled seven of its nine producing wells in the play last year — and will likely offer insight into the extent of the wet gas window of the Utica in eastern Ohio.

The joint venture now plans to move to Noble County, located to the south of Tuscarawas.

The Utica wells to date do not include the six wells Hess plans to drill in the play this year.

With its liquids-targeted wells just coming online, first quarter production remains heavily weighted toward dry gas. Consol produced 37.7 Bcf during the first quarter, up 13% from the first quarter of 2011 after adjusting for the sale of 2.4 Bcf to Noble Energy and Antero Resources (see Shale Daily, Oct. 5, 2011; Sept. 27, 2011). The company expects second quarter production to be almost level, although down slightly to 37 Bcf as production from new wells offsets natural field declines and lower coalbed methane production. Consol now expects net production to be 157-159 Bcf this year, down slightly from the 160 Bcf the company projected in January.

Consol previously announced plans to spend $395 million drilling 122 gross horizontal wells in the Marcellus through its joint venture with Noble and $50 million drilling as many as 22 gross wells in the Utica through its joint venture with Hess this year (see Shale Daily, Jan. 12). The company holds 361,000 net acres in the Marcellus and 100,000 net acres in the Ohio Utica.