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Ohio Production and Injection Well Firms Map

Our latest Ohio-focused map shows the many companies involved in directional drilling in the state and the contact information for these firms.

Layer Descriptions

1. UNIVERSAL WELL SERVICES

Universal Well Services Inc. is a major firm involved in all manner of directional drilling services with an office in Wooster, OH, one in Allen, KY, six in Pennsylvania, six in Texas, and one in West Virginia

2. LLC & MLP’s

This is an inventory of 410 Ohio directional drilling affiliated LLC and MLP firms and contact information. Seventy-eight percent of these firms are domiciled in Ohio. The other primary states that house these firms are Pennsylvania (22), Texas (23), and West Virginia (9). The Economist wrote of these types of firms:

The move away from the C corporation began in earnest in 1975. Wyoming, that vibrant business hub, adopted a new entity structure, the limited-liability company (LLC). Imported from Panama, it provided the tax treatment of a partnership while preserving the corporate protection from individual liability for company debts and litigation. Other states followed in adopting the model. Businesses were quick to see the advantages. The various new types of firm that have risen in the wake of the LLC… make similar use of partnership structures. They have tended to be industry- or sector-specific, at least to begin with. The energy business has a lot of MLPs not only because it needs capital but because it is an easy place to set them up: since 1987, tax law has allowed “mineral or natural resource” companies to operate as listed partnerships, while withholding that privilege from others. But as with other pass-through structures, the constraints are being lowered and circumvented.

3. DRILLING FIRMS

This is an inventory of 393 Ohio Department of Natural Resources permitted directional and injection drilling firms with single locations and their contact information. Seventy-six percent of these firms are domiciled in Ohio with the other primary states of incorporation being Pennsylvania (15), Texas (14), Michigan (11), and West Virginia (9). Only 3 of these firms listed in the Ohio RBDMS Microsoft Access Database contained correct contact information or addresses. According to ODNR staff – and primary FOIA contact:

… it looks like the [active drillers] list [doesn’t contain] much information on the companies in general…We have mailing information for the operating companies, but a lot of the time they subcontract out to get their drillers. We do not require the information of the drillers they contract.

4. ADDITIONAL DRILLERS

This is an inventory of the 40 known locations for six firms permitted to drill in Ohio. The same lack of contact and address data for these firms were true for this data. The primary firms are Butch’s Rathole and Nomac Drilling Corporation. Given that the ODNR RBDMS does not indicate the actual location from which these companies migrated into the Ohio shale industry we decided to include all known locations for these firms.

5. CANADIAN FIRMS

This is an inventory of the 14 known locations for the 5 Canadian drilling firms permitted in Ohio. The primary firm is Savannah Drilling, which is composed of 10 locations across Alberta and Saskatchewan.

6. AMERICAN SUPPORTING CO.

This is an inventory of 1,837 Ohio energy firms operating in the Utica and Marcellus shale or servicing it in a secondary or tertiary fashion. Seventy-five percent (1,386) of these firms are domiciled in Ohio with secondary hotspots in Texas (76), West Virginia (65), Pennsylvania (49), Michigan (34), Colorado (27), Illinois (22), Oklahoma (21), California (16), New York and New Jersey (27), Kentucky (14).

7. ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING CO.

This shows an inventory of 10 Ohio energy firms operating in the Utica and Marcellus shale or servicing it in a secondary or tertiary fashion extracted from the ODNR RBDMS that did not contain locational or contact information.

8. CANADIAN SUPPORTING CO.

This is an inventory of 5 (1 company Mar Oil Company was not found) Canadian energy firms operating in the Utica and Marcellus shale or servicing it in a secondary or tertiary fashion.

9. BRINE HAULERS

This is an inventory of 505 ODNR permitted brine haulers active in the transport and disposal of hydraulic fracturing waste either via injection or waste landfill disposal. Seventy-six percent of these firms are domiciled in Ohio with the primary cities being Zanesville (18), Cambridge, Wooster, and Millersburg (12 each), Canton and Marietta (11 each), Columbus (9), Jefferson (9), Logan (8), and North Canton and Newark (7 each). Pennsylvania and West Virginia are home to 84 and 32 brine haulers, respectively.

OH Shale Viewer

OH National Response Center Data on Shale Gas Viewer

By Ted Auch, PhD – Ohio Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

Thanks to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), we as US citizens have real-time access to “all oil, chemical, radiological, biological, and etiological discharges into the environment anywhere in the United States and its territories” data via the National Response Center (NRC). The NRC is an:

initial report taking agency…[that] does not participate in the investigation or incident response. The NRC receives initial reporting information only and notifies Federal and State On-Scene Coordinators for response…Verification of data and incident response is the sole responsibility of Federal/State On-Scene Coordinators.[1]

We decided that NRC incident data would make for a useful layer in our Ohio Shale Gas Viewer. As of September 1, 2013 it is included and will be updated bi-monthly. Thanks go out to SkyTruth’s generous researchers Paul Woods and Craig Winters. We have converted an inventory of Ohio reports provided by SkyTruth into a GIS layer on our map, consisting of 1,191 events, including date and type, back to January 2012.


The layer is not visible until you zoom in twice from the default view on the map above. It appears as the silhouette of a person lying on the ground with Skull and crossbones next to it. View fullscreen>

Currently, the layer includes 28 hydraulic fracturing-related events, 61 “Big [Oil and Chemical] Spills,” and 1,102 additional events – most of which are concentrated in the urban centers of Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, and Toledo OH.

From a Utica Shale corporation perspective, 21 of the 28 reports are attributed to Chesapeake Operating, Inc. (aka, Chesapeake Energy Corporation (CHK)) or 75% of the hydraulic fracturing (HF) events, while CHK only accounts for 48% of all HF drilled, drilling, or producing wells in OH. Anadarko, Devon, Halcon, and Rex are responsible for the remaining 7 reports. They collectively account for 2.7% of the state’s current inventory of unconventional drilled, drilling, or producing wells.


[1] To contact the NRC for legal purposes, email efoia@uscg.mil. The NRC makes this data available back to 1982, but we decided to focus on the period beginning with the first year of Utica permits here in Ohio to the present (i.e., 2010-2013).

Waste produced by Chesapeake Appalachia and the industry leader in each category from unconventional wells in PA between January and June 2013

PA Releases Unconventional Production and Waste Data

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) releases unconventional oil and gas production and waste data twice a year.  It is important to note that both datasets are self-reported from the industry, and there are usually a few operators who miss the reporting deadline.  For that reason, FracTracker usually waits a week or so to capture the results of the fashionably late.  However, after looking at the data, it is likely that there are still operators that have not yet reported.

Production

Production is perhaps the most important metric of the oil and gas industry.  After all, if there were no production, there would be no point in drilling in the first place.  Royalty payments for property owners are based on production values from the wells.  More than that though, it can be an indication of hot spots, and to some degree, which operators are better at getting the product out of the ground than the rest of the field.

Location

Unconventional formations–especially the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale–underlie about two-thirds of Pennsylvania.  However, that does not mean that if an operator drilling a hole in Clarion County can expect the same result as well in Sullivan County, for example.  Production is unevenly distributed throughout the state:

Unconventional gas production in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013.  All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf).  Counties with above average production per well are highlighted in orange.

Unconventional gas production in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013. All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf). Counties with above average production per well are highlighted in orange.

With 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas production in half a year from unconventional wells, Pennsylvania has become a major leader in production.  For a quick comparison to other regions of the country, see the Energy Information Administration, (although the EIA has apparently not felt inspired to update their data in a while).

It should be noted that there is also oil and condensate production from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania, although that really amounts to a drop in the barrel, so to speak.  Unlike the Bakken, where gas is seen as a byproduct that is routinely flared because there is no infrastructure ready to accept it, the Marcellus and Utica in Pennsylvania are really all about the gas.  Some of the gas from the western part of the state is considered wet, with heavier hydrocarbons like ethane and propane mixed with the methane, but in terms of this report, there is no distinction between wet gas and dry gas, or pure methane.  Eight out of 17 wells producing oil and 430 out of 505 wells producing condensate are located in Washington County.

Operators

The reason that production values are more telling for geographies than for operators is that most operators in Pennsylvania are limited to select portions of the state, where their leasing strategies were focused.  Therefore, certain companies occupy the regions that yield higher production, while others are left trying to extract from less productive areas.  So looking at production by operator does not necessarily reflect their skill at extraction, but it does does give a general impression of how much one of their wells is likely to produce, which could be useful for people trying to negotiate leases, among other considerations.

Unconventional gas production by operator in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013.  All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf).  Operators with above average production are highlighted in orange.

Unconventional gas production by operator in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013. All production values are in thousands of cubic feet (Mcf). Operators with above average production are highlighted in orange.

Note that eight operators on the list have no data.  Presumably, there are the operators that have not yet reported their data to the DEP, although it is possible that some of them could be defunct.  Obviously, any missing data here would also be missing from the county totals.  Alpha Shale is the clear leader in terms of production per well, with about 1.2 million Mcf per well.  Citrus, Rice, and Chief occupy the next teir, with each exceeding an average of 700,000 Mcf.  All four are relatively minor operators, however, with fewer than 100 wells reporting production.  In terms of total production, Chesapeake blows the competition out of the water, with roughly the same production as the next two producers (Cabot and Range) combined.

Waste

Along with all of the profitable gas being produced in Pennsylvania comes all of the various waste products that are created in the process.  Before jumping into the numbers, I’d like to point out that it is likely that operators who have not reported production also have not reported their contribution to the waste.  In its current form, the waste report has 12,604 lines of data from 4,991 different unconventional wells.    Here is a summary of the waste produced by type from unconventional formations in Pennsylvania:

Waste reported from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013.  Note that one barrel equals 42 US gallons.

Waste reported from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from January to June 2013. Note that one barrel equals 42 US gallons.

Some interesting things are revealed when sorting the waste type data by operator, although the resulting table is a little unweildy, even for me.  But here are a few highlights:

  • Anadarko reported 99.5 percent of basic sediment production  
  • Southwestern Energy produced more than twice as much drill cuttings (128,000 tons) as the next highest operator (Cabot:  50,000 tons)
  • Range Resources led the pack with 172,000 barrels of drilling fluid, with Chevron Appalachia (168,000 barrels) close behind
  • PA Gen Energy had the most flowback fracturing sand reported, with over 8,600 tons, despite having fewer than 100 producing wells.
  • Chevron Appalachia produced the most fracing fluid waste (934,000 barrels), with Range Resources coming in at number two (773,000 barrels).  This is what Pennsylvania calls the flowback fluid; this is not the straight chemical additives that used in the hydraulic fracturing process, but those additives are included in this fluid
  • The most produced fluid, or formation brine, came from Range Resources wells (1.6 million barrels), followed by Chesapeake (1.4 million barrels)
  • 82 percent of the servicing fluid reported was from Cabot (1,741 barrels)
  • 100 percent of the spent lubricant was reported by SWEPI (19 barrels)

Amazingly, despite their overwhelming lead in gas production in the state, Chesapeake Appalachia did not have the most of any of the eight different waste types, and in some cases, were not even close:

Waste produced by Chesapeake Appalachia and the industry leader in each category from unconventional wells in PA between January and June 2013

Waste produced by Chesapeake Appalachia and the industry leader in each category from unconventional wells in PA between January and June 2013

The Pennsylvania waste data is also notable for including the disposal method of the waste:

Disposal method for unconventional waste from PA between January and June 2013

Disposal method for unconventional waste from PA between January and June 2013

And for those who can handle one last table, Pennsylvania also tells us where the waste is disposed:

Destination of unconventional oil and gas waste in PA between January and June 2013, by state

Destination of unconventional oil and gas waste in PA between January and June 2013, by state

 

 

Ohio’s Shale Gas Waste Disposal Network Map Now Online

By Ted Auch, Ohio Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

A complete inventory of Ohio’s Active Class II Injection Wells, as well as Ohio Department of Natural Resources certified Underground Injection Control (UIC) certified transporters, is now available in map form on FracTracker.org (See embedded map below). There is an interest in mapping Ohio’s waste facility network for many reasons; in addition to concerns regarding the spreading of waste on roads, problems with Class II Injection Wells in Youngstown are forcing the state to turn to secondary disposal options.

Shale Gas Waste Disposal Network


To view the map’s full set of controls, including legend, please click on the “fullscreen” button on the map.

Map Layers

In addition to the Class II waste injection wells, the map includes Ohio disposal wells designated for Enhanced Oil Recovery (129), Annular Disposal (82), Salt Water Disposal (221), Temporarily Abandoned Annular Disposal (1,987), and Class II Salt Mining (57).

Active Class II’s have quarter-mile buffering increments from 0.10 to 1.5 miles.On average, Ohio’s active Class II wells are 4,434±2,032 feet deep, with a maximum depth of 13,727 feet. There is a total of 793,734 linear feet worth of active Class II wells throughout the state. Utilizing capacity estimates from current Class II fracking waste well permits in Portage County, Ohio, the state’s active Class II’s are capable of accepting 34.6-97.2 million gallons of fracking waste. However, if we include the state’s aforementioned Class II’s that are not currently being utilized for fracking waste disposal, this capacity estimate jumps to 510.9-1,437.4 million gallons of fracking waste. Such volumes would profoundly affect surface water volumes and flows (i.e., headwater streams and vernal pools), aquifer and sub-surface water chemistry, and the types of issues facing California. [1]

At the present time Ohio’s Utica wells are utilizing 4.2-4.5 million gallons of water and 206,837-261,907 gallons of brine per well with an average of 1.96 barrels of brine produced per barrel of oil. To date Ohio’s 213 reported producing wells have utilized 949 million gallons of water and 681,789 gallons of brine. If the state’s remaining 481 permitted Utica wells produce and utilize water at a similar rate The Utica Play would utilize approximately 3.03 billion gallons of water and produce 113 million gallons of brine all of which would require additional Ohio Class II Injection Well capacity requiring the state to repurpose the existing stock to handle this sizeable increase in fracking fluids, drill cuttings and muds, and related oilfield fluids. Thus, FracTracker felt the need to begin to map the state’s non-shale gas Class II Injection Wells.

The map also shows the locations of current natural gas compressor stations and underground storage tanks, along with the state’s hazardous waste and orphaned landfills. These sites were included in response to the Ohio EPA’s recent advisory suggesting waste landfill facilities begin accepting drill cuttings, drilling muds and frac sands, and related oilfield fluids [1,2].

We also present Ohio’s network of Bulk Transporters, which are charged with transporting related materials.

Acknowledgements

This is an original map from The FracTracker Alliance and was constructed with the assistance of Ohio State University graduate student, Caleb Gallemore, and a selection of students from his GIS Class “Elements of Cartography: Serving the Community through cartography.” It was made possible by information from Bulk Transporter Magazine. [3]


References

[1]  Staff. (2013, May 14). Will Ohio’s Landfills Become a Dumping Ground for Radioactive Fracking Waste? EcoWatch. Read>

[2] See our recent post: Ohio’s Waste Not, Want Not!

[3] Who in their words “is the information source for liquid and dry bulk logistics industry. Written for bulk shippers, transporters, and storage operators, BT is dedicated to providing the latest information on regulations, technological developments, logistics management, and hazardous materials safety. For over 65 years, BT has been a trusted source of information for the bulk logistics industry.”

Waste produced by unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from June to December 2012.

Six Months of Production and Waste From PA’s Unconventional Wells

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) recently published its biannual reports for production and waste from unconventional wells throughout the state for the last half of 2012. FracTracker has learned the hard way not to be too eager in analyzing this data.  In the previous cycle, this data was released without the contribution several operators, one of which happened to be the biggest player in the state, Chesapeake Appalachia.  That incident prompted the inclusion of a data disclaimer from DEP, which includes the following text:

The Oil and Gas Act reporting is a self-reporting system, meaning that data is reported from producers to DEP as required by law. All production data is posted as it was received from the unconventional well operators. DEP does not independently verify the data before it is posted.

While the Oil and Gas Act requires accurate and on-time data reporting by producers, and the producers and DEP endeavor to correct any errors discovered after the data is posted, DEP makes no claims, promises or guarantees regarding the accuracy, completeness or timeliness of the operators’ data that DEP is required to post.

While considering content regarding production and waste in Pennsylvania, it is worth noting that the DEP considers the data to belong to the various operators.  All data for this post was downloaded on February 25, 2013, and while it seems reasonably complete, it is important to note that there could be operators which have not posted their data to DEP in a timely fashion.


PA Production and Waste From Unconventional Wells: July 2012 to December 2012. Click on any map icon for more information, or click the “Fullscreen” button at the top right of the map to access more toolbars.  To access data for individual wells, viewers must zoom in to 1:750,000, or an area equivalent to several counties.

The default map frame includes most of the activity for unconventional oil and gas production and waste from Pennsylvania, but if you zoom out, you can find a landfill in southwestern Idaho that accepted 11 tons of flowback fracturing sand for disposal.  Unfortunately, the available data does not give any indication of why an operator might choose to ship waste over 2,000 miles away from its source.

Below are the six month statewide production and waste totals for Pennsylvania’s unconventional wells, including the number of wells that contributed to each total:

 

Production from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from July to December 2012

Production from unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from July to December 2012.  Mcf represents 1,000 cubic feet, and barrels measure 42 US gallons.

The total gas produced was over 1.1 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) for the six month period, which was over 250 billion cubic feet (Bcf) higher than the previous total of 895 Bcf.

Waste produced by unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from June to December 2012.

Waste produced by unconventional wells in Pennsylvania from June to December 2012.

And here is a look at the disposal method for each type of waste, in terms of percentage:

Disposal methods of Pennsylvania unconventional oil and gas waste products, in terms of percentage of the waste type.  July - December 2012.

Disposal methods of Pennsylvania unconventional oil and gas waste products, in terms of percentage of the waste type. July – December 2012.

Note that while road spreading rounds down to 0%, 425 barrels of produced fluid were used in this effort.

Ohio’s Waste Not, Want Not!

By Ted Auch, PhD – Ohio Program Coordinator, FracTracker Alliance

The Akron Beacon Journal’s Bob Downing has just published an investigative report looking at the recent advisory put forth by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (OEPA) Division of Materials and Waste Management – along with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management and the Ohio Department of Health (OHD) [1] Bureau of Radiation Protection – to all of Ohio’s municipal solid waste landfills. The advisory suggests that the landfills statewide – including 17 industrial residual waste, 40 municipal solid waste, 36 orphaned landfill facilities along with 64 transfer stations – should prepare to start receiving solid Utica and Marcellus shale drilling waste, “including drill cuttings, drilling muds, and frac sands,” (especially since Pennsylvania seems to be cracking down on some of its traditional drilling waste disposal practices). This new waste stream is in addition to the millions of barrels of potentially radioactive liquid waste already being trucked in from PA and WV [2] for deep well injection – and potentially shipped into Washington County, OH along the Ohio River [3]. This advisory is concerning because the same regulatory bodies have been conveying to other media outlets (e.g. The Columbus Dispatch) that such activities are strictly prohibited and that injection of Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) is “almost the perfect solution” compared to to landfill disposal.

If the advisory is correct, however, there are complications associated with using this disposal method relative to the waste’s viscosity, elevated levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDSs), and/or concentrations of TENORM. Materials deemed suitable for municipal landfills must not exceed five picocuries per gram radium above background levels; however, early returns speak to the potential for shale wastewater to be:

… 3,609 times more radioactive than a federal safety limit for drinking water…[or] 300 times higher than a Nuclear Regulatory commission limit for industrial discharges to water. Learn more

Additionally, Marcellus brine may have salinity and radium levels three times that of traditional sandstone/limestone oil and gas wells of the Cambrian-Mississippian age. To put this Marcellus data in perspective, the range was 0-18 picocuries per gram with a median value of 2.46 picocuries per gram. Issues associated with brine disposal, however, are not new here in Ohio where researchers like The Ohio State University’s Wayne Pettyjohn reported excessive levels of freshwater chloride (35-320,000 mg/l) pollution in Morrow, Delaware, and Medina counties. These results prompted Pettyjohn to write “ground-water resources may be seriously and perhaps irreparably contaminated long before landowners are even aware that a problem exists” (Pettyjohn, 1971).

The solution proposed by the authors of this advisory is to use the US EPA’s “paint-filter test” bringing materials into compliance with Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 264.313 and 265.313, which basically ended the practice of disposing of “liquid waste or waste containing free liquids” in 1985. The EPA’s Paint Filter Liquids Test (Method 9095B) is summarized as follows:

Material is placed in a paint filter [Mesh number 60 +/- 5% (fine meshed size)] [4]. If any portion of the material passes through and drops from the filter … the material is deemed to contain free liquids.

Figure 1. Ohio’s Registered Non-Hazardous & Hazardous Waste Landfills

Figure 1. Ohio’s Registered Non-Hazardous & Hazardous Waste Landfills

This advisory is likely due to the backlash associated with injection well incidents, including the Youngstown earthquakes attributed by some scientists to the lubrication effect that injected materials have on geologic faults. Additionally, rural communities – and researchers – in Ohio’s Utica Shale basin are beginning to raise questions around the practice of spreading shale gas brine on roads as a substitute for salt in the winter and approved disposal method during the summer. Concerns revolve around elevated levels of chlorides in excess of 2-5 times EPA public drinking-water standards (Bair and Digel, 1990). Unfortunately, the OEPA advisory is ambiguous about post-disposal monitoring, suggesting only that:

… the landfill may need to perform monitoring of landfill systems, such as those related to leachate collection, to determine potential impacts to human health or the environment associated with these [TENORM] waste streams.

This inclusion of the word may rather than must further alienates communities already skeptical about the ability or will of ODNR – and now OEPA and ODH – to regulate and/or ensure adequate monitoring of unconventional natural gas drilling activities. If this advisory is any indication related activities will be spreading beyond the Utica Basin to the state’s 21 hazardous and 121 non-hazardous waste facilities (Figure 1), with specific focus on the 57 industrial residual and municipal solid waste facilities throughout the state (Figure 2 below). Such a regulatory development has serious ramifications for PA’s 40+ municipal waste landfills, 5 construction/demolition waste landfills, 3 residual waste landfills, and 6 resource recover/waste to energy facilities (see full PA stats) and the nation’s 1,908 Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfills as reported in BioCycle (2010).

As drilling intensifies in the Utica Shale, nearby states may be further burdened by the mounting waste stream. Communities once thought to be disconnected from hydraulic fracturing will be forced to debate the merits of allowing such waste in their communities, similar to the situation facing non-Utica Shale cities in Ohio. Such a discussion will be unavoidable given that 84% of the state’s waste treatment facilities are located outside what could liberally be referred to as the Ohio Shale play (Figure 2 Inset).

Figure 2. Ohio’s Registered Non-Hazardous Waste Facilities by Type (% of the state’s 121 facilities)

Figure 2. Ohio’s Registered Non-Hazardous Waste Facilities by Type (% of the state’s 121 facilities)


[1] The ODH co-signed the OEPA advisory even though its own radiation-protection chief Michael Snee told The Columbus Dispatch that “wastes trucked to landfills pose a bigger threat to groundwater” relative to injection wells only days prior to the OEPA advisories release last September.
[2] 53% of the 12.2 million barrels of brine injected into Ohio’s 160 injection wells came from these neighboring states (PA and WV).
[3] The company proposing the Washington County landfill in New Matamoras is confident that the shipping of shale gas drilling waste is safe because “barges ship hydrochloric acid,” as their VP of Appalachian business development told The Columbus Dispatch.
[4] Mesh number 60 is in the lower third of the US Sieve size distribution with an opening of 0.250 mm or 0.0098 in, with the smallest sieve size being No. 400 at 0.037 mm. or 0.0015 in. Learn more>

PA Waste and Production Maps Available on FT’s FracMapper

Additional Pennsylvania content has been added to FracTracker’s mapping utility, FracMapper. In addition to the Shale Gas Viewer, which contains a lot of basic information about unconventional gas extraction in the Commonwealth, users can now also find information on the latest production and waste reports, which range from January 1, 2012 to June 30, 2012 in both cases. All three maps can be found together on the Pennsylvania Maps page.

Let’s take a look at each of the new maps:

Production

The production map(1) contains separate layers for each of the three kinds of production reported in Pennsylvania:  gas (measured in thousands of cubic feet, or Mcf); condensate (measured in barrels); and oil (measured in barrels).  I have also made county-level maps containing aggregated data by county for each of the three products, including total production, number of wells that contributed to the production (which may differ from “drilled wells”), and the average production of those wells.  So for example, there were two unconventional wells that produced oil in Butler County, for a total of 7,488.34 barrels, which is an average of 3,744.17 per producing well.


Pennsylvania unconventional production map. Click the expanding arrow icon in the top right to gain access to additional functionality.

Waste

There are three layers in this map, all of which are based on the most recent unconventional waste report.  First, there is a generalized layer, which shows the location of the wells producing waste, but does not have any specific content.  This layer exists to improve map performance at the statewide level.  If you zoom in past 1:500,000 (a view showing several counties), then the generalized layer disappears, and the data become available by clicking on any of the wells that reported waste production.  Finally, there is a layer of facilities that received the waste.  If you click on one of the industrial icons, it will bring up the aggregated waste that was received by that facility, and included information on how that waste was disposed of (i.e., injection wells or landfills).  To see the list of disposal methods and their abbreviations, please click on the expanding arrows in the top right of the map below, then the “About” icon on the toolbar.

Pennsylvania unconventional waste production map. Click the expanding arrow icon in the top right to gain access to additional functionality.

  1. As a mapmaker, I am vexed by some rendering issues with this map that have not yet been fully resolved. For each of the three county layers, all counties reporting zero production are supposed to draw transparently, and one of the largest producing counties of gas, Bradford, is supposed to be opaque. While this map remains stylistically unsatisfactory, the data remain accurate. Here is a screen shot of what the map is supposed to look like when showing gas data:

    Hopefully, this issue will be resolved shortly.

Pennsylvania Unconventional Waste Data

As we recently learned with unconventional production report, one never quite knows when Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) datasets are complete. According to the Post-Gazette, PADEP considers the reports to speak for themselves, and information is shared with the public without preamble or fanfare as it becomes available.  Therefore, we can’t know that self-reported data, in this case unconventional waste report, is ever truly complete.  Hopefully at this point, which is now several weeks after the reporting deadline, we can let the report speak what it will, expecting that further changes will be fairly minor in scope.

In addition to all of that, some oil and gas operators were apparently confused about the difference between gallons and 42 gallon barrels in the past, leading to wildly erroneous reports.  We’ll just have to hope that’s not the case.

First, let’s take a look a the amount of waste produced by type for unconventional wells between January and June of 2012:

And here is the same dataset, arranged to show disposal method (with the waste types grouped together for the sake of simplicity):

Here are the data arranged by operator:

Please note that not all wells that are present on the report are producing waste, or have even been drilled for that matter.  In fact, there is a column in the data where operators can explain why there is no waste being reported.  Here are those results, summarized:

This does not mean, however, that there are 7,994 wells producing waste.  In fact, there are only 5,651 instances of wells reporting at least some amount of one or more kinds of waste, a number roughly in line with the spud count.  This number was actually more than I had expected, since it is known that not all of the spudded (drilled) wells have been put into production, and that reported totals for drill cuttings are remarkable modest for a series of holes in the ground that are roughly between 5,000 and 8,500 feet deep.  The explanation, it turns out, is due to the architecture of the dataset, wherein each line of data is capable of handling only one type of waste, so that wells reporting multiple types of waste must appear more than once.  Therefore, there are not 9,038 wells, or even 5,651.  There are 3,922 unique wells on the report, as counted by the unique well API numbers.  For this reason, in the charts above, it is best to think of the “Wells” columns as “Instances” instead.

It is also probable that different operators report their waste in different ways.  For example, EQT and Chesapeake are both near the top of the list in the amount of barrels of liquid waste produced, but neither one reported any waste that was measured in tons (drill cuttings and flowback fracturing sand).  Without having seen their operations in the field, we must assume that the waste produced is fundamentally similar to that of other operators–perhaps they reported the waste content as a viscous fluid rather than filtering out some of the solids, as other operators seem to do.

Unconventional Production and Waste Data Still Trickling In

Last week, I took a quick look at the newly released, semi-annual unconventional production report published by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) Office of Oil and Gas Management. The results were fairly stunning: it showed a decrease in production from 607 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the period from July to December 2011 to just under 303 Bcf for the first six months of 2012.

Thanks to a comment from one of our astute users on the DataTool, I was alerted to the fact that the wells of Pennsylvania’s largest unconventional well operator, Chesapeake Appalachia, were entirely missing.

After checking the data again this morning, Chesapeake’s wells are still missing from the report, but other wells have been included that were previously missing, bringing the temporary total for unconventional gas for the six month period to 705 Bcf. This amounts to a substantial gain over the previous six month cycle, not a dramatic reduction.

I will check back regularly for Chesapeake data, but until then, both the production and waste reports, which are self-reported by operators to PADEP, should be considered incomplete.  I apologize for the inadvertent mischaracterization of the data.

Drilled Wells by Operator Over Time in PA’s Marcellus

The roster of companies that drill into Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale is a long one:  there are 70 different operators listed on the Marcellus Spud Report at the PADEP website. Here is a list of each operator, complete with annual totals since 2005:


Marcellus Shale wells drilled by operator by year, through May 2, 2012

With the chart below, you can view the same data in a different way:


Percentage of each operator’s drilling activity by year. Please click the above image for a full sized view.

This graph is particularly useful for highlighting new operators, as well as those that are no longer drilling wells. When I show data trends for operators over time, I typically get multiple comments about mergers, acquisitions, and subsidiaries within the industry. Such comments are welcome, and yet any attempt to account for them on my end will almost certainly be incomplete, and therefore potentially misleading. For that reason, I have elected not to aggregate operators in any way, tempting though it may be to combine “Exco Resources PA Inc” and “Exco Resources PA Llc”.

Here are a few more observations about the data:

  • Atlas Resources drilled an industry-high 117 Marcellus Shale wells in 2009. The company is still active, but not on the same scale, drilling just 11 wells last year, and only four wells in the first four months of 2012.
  • The DEP has apparently made some retroactive changes to the operators for wells drilled in previous years. In this violations analysis from November, for example, Dominion Exploration and Production has 17 wells between 2006 and 2011. Now, the only Dominion well is for Dominion Trans Inc. The balance of Dominion wells was likely transferred to either Consol Gas Co or CNX Gas Co Llc, both subsidiaries of Consol Energy, which purchased Dominion’s Marcellus holdings in 2010.
  • Whatever prompted the DEP to reassign Dominion wells to other operators apparently didn’t apply for Shell’s 2010 acquisition of East Resources.  Or at least it didn’t apply for all of East’s wells–in November, East was credited as being the operator for 342 wells, while they currently are on record for 298.  Shell, which does business as SWEPI on this list, had no wells until 2011 on the November list, whereas now, they are listed as the operator for 21 wells that were spudded between 2008 and 2010.
  • With 545 wells drilled through the first 123 days of 2012, the industry is on pace to drill 1,617 Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania this year, down from 1,937 wells last year.