Pennsylvania shale gas drillers pulled just 34 permits for wells in November, the lowest number in 13 years, continuing their trend of keeping production low despite rising market prices for their product.
The last time the state issued so few permits was in November 2008 just before the fracking boom brought a massive surge of development to the Marcellus Shale that peaked in December 2010 with 402 permits issued in a single month. The first unconventional well targeting the Marcellus Shale was drilled in 2004 by Range Resources Corp.
November's total was about 53% less than the previous month's count, according to state Department of Environmental Protection data, and 38% less than in November 2020.
The five largest exploration and production companies in Pennsylvania — EQT Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp., Coterra Energy Inc., Range and Southwestern Energy Co. — spent another month keeping drilling and spending to a minimum and accumulating cash thanks to higher commodity prices.
EQT pulled seven permits to drill, a decrease from 11 permits a year ago. National Fuel Gas Co.'s upstream unit, Seneca Resources Corp., pulled two permits in November.
Four of the five top-producing counties in Pennsylvania — Susquehanna, Bradford and Lycoming in the northeast part of the state and Washington in the southwest — were among the most active counties for permitting in November, with seven permits each in Lycoming and Washington. Clarion, a county northeast of Pittsburgh that had no drilling activity in 2020, had three permits, bringing its year-to-date total to eight.