Appalachian Basin player Consol Energy Inc. may be known as a coal producer, but the company’s natural gas profile is growing in prominence.

Consol’s gas division reported record quarterly production of 35.8 Bcf for the quarter ended Sept. 30. This was 44% more than the 24.8 Bcf produced in the corresponding period last year and 12% more than the 31.9 Bcf produced in the quarter ended June 30.

Earlier this year Consol bought the exploration and production business of Dominion for nearly $3.5 billion (see Daily GPI, March 16). The deal included rights to about 491,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale.

The gas division began the quarter with one horizontal rig running in Greene County, PA, and ended the quarter with three horizontal rigs operating. The original horizontal rig left its base in Greene County to drill in nearby Belmont County, OH. Beginning at a depth of 8,450 feet, the rig encountered 200 feet of Utica Shale. The vertical well, unstimulated, flowed 1.5 MMcf of gas in a 24-hour period.

Consol has more than 70,000 acres in and around the discovery well in Belmont County. “While most of our delineation efforts are focused on the Marcellus Shale, our vast acreage holdings include other zones that warrant testing, including the Utica Shale. As a result of this discovery, we will shift some of our exploration capital to this shale in 2011,” said CEO J. Brett Harvey.

Three of the wells drilled during the quarter will be completed this week. Details will be discussed during an earnings conference call on Oct. 29, Consol said.

On the coal side of its business, Consol reported production of 14.7 million tons for the most recent quarter.