Consol Energy announced Wednesday that its plans to drill 70 wells in the Marcellus Shale play by the end of the year were slightly ahead of schedule, thanks to the 13 horizontal wells it drilled during 1Q2011.

The company, based in Canonsburg, PA, said seven of the 13 wells were drilled in southwest Pennsylvania, four were in central Pennsylvania and two were in northern West Virginia.

Consol has drilled four additional wells so far in April, bringing its total Marcellus lateral footage to more than 60,000 feet, compared to a total lateral footage of 78,000 for all of 2010. The company attributed the increase to drilling efficiency, with drilling days from kick-off point to total depth averaging fewer than 10 days.

Just before the close of 1Q2011 Consol said it had hydraulically fractured three horizontal wells on its DeArmitt pad, located in Westmoreland County, PA. The wells are the first to be drilled on property formerly owned by Dominion, whose exploration and production business was acquired by Consol in March 2010 (see Daily GPI, March 16, 2010). Two of the three wells are producing at a combined rate of more than 15 MMcf/d.

“It is very gratifying to see that the first two wells drilled on the acquired Dominion property appear to be very substantial,” Consol CEO J. Brett Harvey said Wednesday. “The DeArmitt results and the results of others in the area significantly derisk the acreage in and around Indiana County, PA.”

Last October Consol made its first discovery in the Utica Shale play in eastern Ohio when a vertical well hit 200 feet of shale at a depth of 8,450 feet, and then proceeded to open-flow at a rate of 1.5 MMcf during a 24-hour period (see Shale Daily, Nov. 1, 2010). The company has four walking rigs, and said Wednesday it plans to deploy them in both the Marcellus and Utica shale plays until the end of the 2011.

Consol also said its gas division had set a record for quarterly gas production at 35.9 Bcf during 1Q2011. The company said it was committed to reaching its production goal of 150 to 160 Bcf for the entire year.

Consol plans to announce additional operational and financial results for 1Q2011 during a conference call at 10 a.m. on April 28.