Sunday, May 23, 2010
(we all knew this was coming!!!)
The discovery gives hope to drillers for extending the life of Pa. mining efforts.
Wells could be sunk from existing sites...
By Andrew Maykuth
Inquirer Staff Writer
As big as the Marcellus Shale gas bonanza has become, it's not the only Pennsylvania geologic formation yielding new and unexpected quantities of natural gas. Two exploration companies have reported promising discoveries in rock formations layered around the Marcellus like a geologic parfait. Those finds raise the prospect of even more drilling in a state where the gas boom has generated ardent economic hopes as well as passionate environmental fears.
Range Resources Corp., a Texas company that pioneered Marcellus development in 2003, reported to analysts last month that it had completed horizontal test wells in shale formations above and below the mile-deep Marcellus. Range says the two formations contain significant commercial quantities of natural gas.
"The Marcellus has gotten a lot of great research and a lot of great results, and you might think it's the only shale play up here of any magnitude," William Zagorski, Range vice president of geology in Appalachia, said in an interview Friday.
But Zagorski said two new shale formations - the Utica Shale deeper below the surface and the shallower Upper Devonian Shale - were "in the same ballpark" as the Marcellus.
Though both lie under large stretches of the eastern United States - the Utica is being developed in Quebec - Range officials say the Utica Shale appears to be most promising in Western Pennsylvania, and the Upper Devonian Shale in southwestern Pennsylvania and parts of West Virginia. Drilling is going on in both areas, including some directed at the Marcellus.
Meanwhile, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., a Houston company, disclosed to analysts last year that it had drilled a successful horizontal well through the Purcell Limestone in its Marcellus acreage in Susquehanna County north of Scranton.
The Purcell Limestone is an intermediate stratum sandwiched between two layers of the Marcellus Shale. Before drilling the Purcell well, Cabot's activity was exclusively confined to the richer, lower Marcellus.
The new well, which produced an impressive 7.3 million cubic feet of gas per day over 30 days, allowed Cabot to access the upper Marcellus Shale without impairing production from its deeper wells, Dan O. Dinges, Cabot's chief executive officer, told analysts in a February conference call.
With the new results, Cabot and other operators in Pennsylvania's northern tier might multiply production from their existing acreage by running pairs of horizontal wells at different depths.
Read the rest of the article here.