Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell signed legislation Tuesday that requires well production information from the Marcellus Shale and elsewhere in the state to be filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) twice a year, and calls for those reports to be posted online every six months.

SB 297 amends the state’s Oil and Gas Act, requiring operators to file by Aug. 15 initial reports including the status of each well and production data for the preceding year. Subsequent reports to include any changes to well status and production data for the preceding six months must be filed by Feb. 15 and Aug. 15 of each year.

The amendment requires DEP to post the reports on its website after six months. The Oil and Gas Act had required DEP to keep the reports confidential for five years. The information will be available to regulation agencies, competing gas producers and potential market entrants, and may also be used by the state in enforcement proceedings and for statistical purposes, according to the Washington, DC, law firm of Steptoe & Johnson.

Rendell has asked lawmakers to reconsider a proposal to impose a 5% severance tax on natural gas extraction in the Marcellus (see Daily GPI, Feb. 10). The tax proposal was tabled during budget negotiations in the General Assembly last year (see Daily GPI, Jan. 19; Sept. 2, 2009).

The U.S. Geological Survey has estimated that the shale contains as much as 50 Tcf of natural gas. A recent study estimated that the Marcellus will generate $13.5 billion per year in economic value and create 175,000 jobs in Pennsylvania by 2020, according to members of the state’s Public Utility Commission (see Daily GPI, March 12). The commission has scheduled a special en banc hearing on April 22 to examine jurisdictional issues related to natural gas development in the play.

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