Seeing New York’s Promise
Developer of ShaleNavigator, (Web-based Natural Gas Mapping System)
The other day, after reading what seemed like way too much about the bad behavior at the New York State DEC hearings on the SGEIS, I decided to visualize what might occur, if New York ever gets through the SGEIS process and allows safe and sustainable natural gas recovery on it’s soil. In a sudden, unexpected surge of optimism, I began the process of “connecting the dots.”
I started with mapped locations of Pennsylvania’s and Ohio’s producing natural gas wells, specifically those reported in the last year. I added new well permits, recent lease offers, and even recent well results released by operating companies. Where I had them, I added drilling units, and ended up with quite a visual. The extensive activity in Pennsylvania and, more recently Eastern Ohio, end suddenly at the New York State border There is hardly a transition area at all. Economic development from natural gas, with few exceptions (primarily Elmira, Horseheads and the Binghamton areas) ends arbitrarily at a political boundary having nothing whatsoever to do with geology, environment or anything at all that provides a rational reason for stopping.
I studied the patterns of natural gas development over time and analyzed where development has occurred over the past few years, then the past few months, and where it might be headed. Pennsylvania appears to have two “core” areas, the Southwestern corner of the Commonwealth being one of them, new permits and producing wells dominate the map, although they’re not all that visible in the actual countryside.
The other “core” is found in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where new gathering lines, lease offers, and permits, and other activity show an economy in full development. Then it suddenly ends. You guessed it. That’s that New York State border again, where gigantic virtual stop signs call a halt to everything good that’s been happening just about everywhere else but here.
But my optimism continues from an unlikely source. Thin red lines crossing the border tell a tale of promise. They are the network of interstate pipelines, almost seeming to be wandering, looking for wells to which to connect. Clearly, the pattern of activity in Northeastern Pennsylvania’s core area might follow the lines northward, continuing into New York State, following the infrastructure. The pipelines would surely sprout limbs, eventually connecting to producing wells. What a sight on the map it would be. Perhaps Upstate New York has a future after all.