Last week the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released official data on Marcellus Shale natural gas production but left out some key information from one of the state’s previous top producers.
Chesapeake Energy did not meet the August 15th deadline to include the firm’s bi-annual numbers in the report, leaving significant gaps in the accuracy of the state’s “official” data. The state of Pennsylvania requires this data to be released every six months. With such long gaps between releases, the media and industry research groups rely heavily on the data present in these reports. The PA DEP has met significant criticism for failing to mention the data was not present.
DEP’s comments on the issue are unapologetic.
Spokesperson Kevin Sunday said in a statement Monday that “what appears is what we have.”
Critics believe that the state has a responsibility to alert the public to missing information due to the importance and timeliness of these bi-annual reports.
Fadel Gheit a senior oil and gas analyst at Oppenheimer & Co. in New York City noted that it “is totally unprofessional. That’s very bad.”
In an August 20 article, The Associated Press reported that “Gheit said that DEP at least had the responsibility to let investors and industry know the posted production totals were incomplete, since financial markets and energy companies use them for long-term decisions involving billions of dollars.”
Oklahoma Based Chesapeake Energy has not yet commented on their missing data, why it was late, or when they plan to fix it. However, Chesapeake Energy is not receiving the majority of the criticism.
Whether the data was submitted or not, many believe it was the ethical responsibility to report the fact that the data was missing.
Managing editor of the Powell Shale Digest, Will Brackett said, “I can’t believe that DEP didn’t put some sort of disclaimer.”
With hiccups like this in the Pennsylvania natural gas industry, many experts believe the state should increase the frequency of data releases to every month.
Will Brackett notes that, “Pretty much every other major oil and gas-producing state out there, requires the data to be reported on a monthly basis.”
One thing we can be sure of is the DEP will continue to receive criticism and that we might see a change in the DEP’s reporting process.