SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) -- Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale drilling industry is posting huge gains in production.
The state's 1,632 working Marcellus wells produced 432.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas through the first six months of the year, a 60 percent increase over the amount of gas reported for the last six months of 2010, according to Department of Environmental Protection statistics released this week.
Bradford, Susquehanna and Tioga counties in northern Pennsylvania led the way with 260 billion cubic feet of gas, The Times-Tribune of Scranton reported Thursday. A well drilled by EQT Production Co. in Greene County produced the most gas in a reporting period, 3 billion cubic feet.
The Marcellus is a rock formation primarily beneath Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia and Ohio. Drilling began in earnest in 2008 as energy companies perfected the techniques of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, allowing them to tap previously inaccessible reservoirs of gas.
Energy firms have been boosting their production targets, not only because new wells are coming on line but also because they're managing to coax more gas from each well.
"Pennsylvania is becoming a big gas producer in a major way," said Timothy Considine, a professor of energy economics at the University of Wyoming.
He told the newspaper that the state has become a net exporter of natural gas, "changing the entire natural gas market picture in the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic region."
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent subpoenas to three energy companies as part of an inquiry into whether they gave investors, including New York's public pension fund, an accurate picture of the profitability of their natural gas wells, a person briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday.
Schneiderman wants documents related to claims the companies made about drilling costs and long-term productivity of their shale gas wells, said the person, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because subpoenas are not public documents.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry group, said Schneiderman's move was purely political.
"I think what he's about to learn, grudgingly, from this exercise is that the shale phenomenon is real, it's producing volumes of energy no one previously thought possible, and that it has the very real potential of delivering once-in-a-generation type benefits to folks all across New York state in a safe and efficient way," the coalition said in a statement.
Associated Press writer Mary Esch contributed to this report from Albany, N.Y.
Information from: The Times-Tribune, http://thetimes-tribune.com/