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Pa. shale gas permits dipped in August as EQT slowed down

Permitting activity for shale gas wells slipped 15% in August compared to the same period a year ago as big drillers in the southwestern part of the state trimmed their sails at the same time counties in the northeast corner saw renewed activity in advance of the opening of Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. LLC's 1.7-Bcf/d Atlantic Sunrise pipeline.

Greene County in the liquids-rich southwest corner of the Marcellus Shale led the state in shale well permitting, driven by EQT Corp., the nation's largest gas producer. But EQT cut its permitting activity by 40% year over year, mainly by cutting back in Washington County next door to the north.

In the northeastern corner of the state, where Atlantic Sunrise is scheduled to start service later in the month, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. pulled the bulk of the permits in Susquehanna County, where the pipeline begins taking deliveries. Cabot has booked 1 Bcf/d of Atlantic Sunrise's capacity and plans to fill it as soon as possible.

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Spanish driller Repsol Energy North America pulled 10 of the 12 permits issued for Bradford County, to the west of Susquehanna, more than three times the permits Repsol was issued in Pennsylvania a year ago.

Permitting data from the state's Department of Environmental Protection showed a continued push by private-equity-backed Huntley & Huntley Energy Exploration LLC into Pittsburgh's home county, Allegheny. The Blackstone Group LP-backed driller pulled 12 permits for wells in Allegheny County after pulling 17 in July for wells in Allegheny and neighboring Westmoreland County. In August 2017, Huntley was issued three permits to drill. The private company has not responded to inquiries about its drilling program.