Dallas-based oil and natural gas company Gulf Onshore Inc. has formed a Pennsylvania operating company to target opportunities in the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale region, it said Monday.

Newly formed Shale Gas Operating Ltd. plans to seek authority from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management to operate oil and natural gas wells in the state, Gulf Onshore said. Gulf Onshore said it has been in talks with agents of two property owners, with a combined 3,200 acres in northern Pennsylvania, to develop these properties.

The Marcellus Shale region extends through the Appalachian Basin from Tennessee to southern New York and is estimated to contain more than 500 Tcf of natural gas, according to Gulf Onshore.

Estimates of the Marcellus Shale’s value, which primarily runs below Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, have been put at around $1 trillion. The shale lately has gotten long looks from gas producers because of improved horizontal drilling techniques, which are unlocking huge gas reserves in unconventional shale plays across North America (see Daily GPI, April 3).

Gas reserves in the Marcellus are anybody’s guess. The U.S. Geological Survey in 2002 estimated that the Marcellus contained approximately 1.9 Tcf. Pennsylvania State University’s Terry Engelder has estimated Marcellus reserves at 168 Tcf, but his figures are unconfirmed.

Gulf Onshore’s board has named Earl Moore as CEO and Mark Smith as CFO. The two, along with R. Wayne Duke, have been appointed directors as well.

Gulf Onshore holds interest in four producing wells in Texas and interests in several oil and gas leases in Throckmorton and Shackleford counties, TX. The company was formerly known as Brighton Oil & Gas. It changed its named to Gulf Onshore in April.

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