UPDATE: The DataTool is no longer active. Explore WV maps here instead.
Permits data for Marcellus Shale wells in West Virginia has recently been updated on FracTracker’s DataTool
Astute viewers will note that there is a well drawn in the Athens, OH area, a good 20 miles from the West Virginia border as the crow flies. As it turns out, this is not the most egregious error; if you zoom out, you will see purple dots in Indiana and North Carolina as well, neither of which are are even contiguous with West Virginia. There were also about five wells that I deleted the location data for, because I could tell at a glance that they would have drawn well south of the Tropic of Cancer.
These data errors are a shame, because they compromise the experience of an otherwise slick data delivery system, where viewers can pick permits from a given formation, see them draw on a map, and then download the data. The data are fairly bare-bones in nature, consisting of just six columns, but this is not something that I have a quarrel with, as it includes the information that most people want to know, including where the well is, who is responsible for it, when the permit was issued, and the unique well number. And we already know, based on download parameters, what the target formation of the well is.
While only a handful of wells are affected by faulty location data, 330 out of 2,688 wells in the dataset lack permit issue dates, or just over 12 percent of the wells. This is significant enough to make the result of any trend analysis questionable. Nonetheless, let’s proceed to have a look, keeping relevant caveats in mind:
Marcellus Shale permits issued per month in West Virginia
While the number of permits per month is fairly erratic in West Virginia, it is clear that the last full month–July 2012–saw the largest number of permit issued in the Marcellus ever, and that June 2012 is tied for second. West Virginia clearly is not seeing the same contraction of unconventional gas activity that Pennsylvania is.
Like its neighbors, Pennsylvania and Ohio, Chesapeake has the largest number of permits for unconventional gas permits. Unlike Ohio, where the operator’s share was over 70 percent of the total of the Utica, here the plurality is just 17 percent of Marcellus Wells.