Firms plan big drilling expansion in PA

While the national newspapers are penning breathless stories on the demise of the natural gas drilling industry, energy firms with drilling programs in the Marcellus Shale are planning to dramatically expand their drilling operations in 2009, especially in Pennsylvania, according to an analysis of publicly released investor statements and local newspaper interviews with gas company officals. 

The major gas companies had an average of 18 or so drilling rigs targeting the Marcellus Shale formation by the end of 2008. Investor statements and newspaper interviews indicate this number will jump to 45 or more by the end of 2009.  While companies currently face multiple constraints from lowered commodity prices, limited water permitting and disposal availability, and limitied infrastructure capability, statements from gas company officials indicate that the energy companies are currently positioning themselves for  time frames of 2011 or 2012 when these constraints are expected to be mitigated. 

Here are a list of investor statements or interviews from some of the major Marcellus Shale drilling companies:

CABOT: Plans to stay at 6 drilling rigs  through 2009. 

RANGE: Plans to increase from 3 to 6 drilling rigs.
FORTUNA: Plans to increase from 1 to 5 drilling rigs. 
CHESAPEAKE: Plans to increase from 6 to 16 drilling rigs. 
CHIEF: Plans to increase from  1 to 6 drilling rigs
EOG: Plans to increase from from 0 to 1 drilling rigs

ATLAS: Plans to increase from 1 to 2 drilling rigs.

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