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Development of the Marcellus Shale in Southwest Pennsylvania; Challenging, but Rewarding

S. Lutz, M. Goodman, D. Bajek, C. Jump, and W. Zempolich
Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company, Moon Township, PA, [email protected]

There are challenges in developing the Marcellus Shale in Southwest Pennsylvania. These challenges can be quite severe and make it a difficult area to develop; however these challenges don’t necessarily outweigh the positive rewards that can be obtained from this region. For one, wet gas (comprised of heavy gas liquids and condensate) can provide monetary upside in these times of low natural gas prices. Another upside is the compact but “rich” pay zone, with high porosities and high TOC’s. Easy drilling and ‘landing’ with some of the highest production in the state comes from this quality area. Yet, terrain, alone, can discourage operators from wanting to drill in certain parts of Southwest PA. Pre-existing structures, such as buildings, roads and major pipelines sometimes occupy the only flat ground within hundreds of acres, making pad selection, road access and location of water impoundments very difficult. Each well pad is a major engineering and design project. Other drilling and development challenges are related to active coal mines, title issues, and geo-hazards. In spite of all the issues, Southwest Pennsylvania will most likely be considered a ‘sweet spot’ when all is said and done.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90154©2012 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting, Cleveland, Ohio, 22-26 September 2012