The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued 262 permits for Marcellus Shale drilling and operators reported drilling 154 wells into the formation in June, according to information released Monday.

In the first six months of the year the DEP issued 1,629 Marcellus permits and operators reported drilling 808 wells into the formation in Pennsylvania. That’s up from 1,398 permits issues and 711 wells drilled through the first six months of 2010, and from 793 permits issued and 197 wells drilled between January and June 2009.

Bradford County in northeastern Pennsylvania continues to be the most active in the state with 306 permits issued and 187 wells drilled this year through June. And Washington County continues to lead the southwestern Pennsylvania corridor with 108 permits and 79 wells. However, development is down in both counties compared to 2010, as activity continues to spread from early hot spots into neighboring counties (see Shale Daily, June 16).

Lycoming County, just southwest of Bradford, continues to see development at triple its 2010 levels with 186 permits issued and 121 wells drilled through June. And in Wyoming County, a county just southeast of Bradford that saw no development in 2009, the DEP issued 61 permits and operators drilled 14 wells through June.

In southwestern Pennsylvania drilling in Fayette County, south of Pittsburgh, is one-third of 2009 levels, but interest in Butler County, north of Pittsburgh, keeps growing, with drilling and permitting double 2010 levels.

In neighboring Ohio the Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is seeing its first permitting rush.

The ODNR issued eight permits for horizontal wells into the Utica and Point Pleasant shales in June, half of all the permits ever issued by the agency for horizontal drilling into those formations. Of the eight permits, five went to Chesapeake Exploration LLC, two went to Enervest Operating LLC and one went to CNX Gas Co. LLC.

The permits are clustered primarily in neighboring Carroll and Jefferson counties, along the West Virginia border.