Pennsylvania Annual Report: Skyrocketing Natural Gas Production That Is “Protective of Water Resources”
2018 was an immensely successful, record-breaking year for Pennsylvania’s shale industry, according to the Pa. Department of Environmental Protection’s most recent Oil and Gas Annual Report. It highlights major steps the industry and Commonwealth are taking together to improve safety measures while steadily increasing production.
For the second year in a row, DEP emphasized its annual mechanical integrity report, which showed a 99-percent compliance rate for unconventional operators:
“DEP’s oil and gas program completed an initial audit and field study of the information reported by operators and found that most of the data submitted suggests that wells in the state are being operated in a manner that is protective of water resources.” (emphasis added)
Here are some of the noteworthy statistics from the report:
Pennsylvania Natural Gas Production Continues to Break Records
Last year, Pennsylvania maintained its position as the nation’s second largest natural gas producing state by producing 6.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas – a 14-percent increase from 2017’s production numbers. According to DEP,
“This represents the largest volume of natural gas on record that has been produced in Pennsylvania in a single year.”
Even more impressive is that the industry is achieving this record-breaking production with fewer wells drilled each year thanks to improved technology and efficiency. There were 1,180 fewer unconventional wells drilled in 2018 than in 2011, yet Pennsylvania produced 475 percent more natural gas.
Natural gas production has skyrocketed across the Appalachian Basin states of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia over the past decade. As EID’s recent video shows, if the region were a country, it would have ranked as the third largest country for natural gas production in 2018.
DEP Conducted More Inspections Than Ever Before
Pennsylvania’s DEP conducts extensive compliance inspections at the beginning, middle, and end of well construction to ensure they are built and operated safely. While fewer well permits were issued in 2018, the DEP recorded almost 600 more inspections than in 2017.
All told, DEP conducted 18,830 inspections on 777 unconventional wells drilled in 2018, in addition to another 4,655 administrative inspections.
New this year, DEP also added its Compliance Report page, where the public can search inspection reports by dates, counties, and municipalities. The department said this initiative seeks to increase transparency by making inspection reports, including those with violations, more visible to the public.
Pennsylvania’s Shale Industry Continues to Lead on Innovative Produced-Water Solutions
Pennsylvania’s shale industry began voluntarily recycling its produced water in 2011, and the practice has continued to grow over the past eight years. DEP reports that 90 percent of produced water from shale operations was recycled and reused in 2018, 7 percent was sent to the state’s 11 underground injection facilities or those in nearby states, and the remaining 3 percent was managed using other methods.
Pennsylvania’s record-breaking natural gas production has created incredible opportunities for the Commonwealth, while proving that the industry can and does operate in a manner that protects our environment and health. And while 2018 was a phenomenal year for Pennsylvania, DEP’s most recent production reports show 2019 is shaping up to be even stronger. From January to May 2019, the Commonwealth has already produced nearly 2.8 tcf of natural gas – a nearly 15 percent increase over the same months in 2018 – setting the course to shatter records again next year.