Snapshot from the Marcellus: Two New Gas Wells a Day for 20 years

A gas drill sits upon the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania. (image: newspaper guy via flickr.com)

Here’s a statistic that is getting tossed around in some energy stories today, illustrating the industry’s interest in the Marcellus shale: The Norwegian oil company, Statoil, with its Chesapeake Energy partners, says it could drill 17,000 natural gas wells along the gas-rich Appalachian formation over the next 20 years. That amounts to 2.33 new wells a day for the next two decades.

According to experts, the natural gas pumping from the Marcellus is “wet” — meaning rich with byproduct natural gas liquids, or NGLs, including propane, butane, and ethane. And these NGLs are gravy for the energy companies, since some are more valuable than the natural gas, or methane, on the current market.

Statoil has a one-third stake in Chesapeake’s holdings in the northern panhandle of West Virginia. Their agreement covers 1.8 million acres of Marcellus shale over four states, the Wall Street Journal says, citing the Wheeling Intelligencer.