“It’s still very early, but we’re very excited about the potential, especially in Southwestern Pennsylvania,” said Matt Pitzarella, Range’s Cecil-based spokesman. “The Upper Devonian mimics the Marcellus,” bringing up a collection of liquid gases including ethane and propane along with methane.
The public doesn’t have a really good estimate of what the Upper Devonian holds, said Doug Patchen, director of the Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium at West Virginia University. Drilling companies are starting to get a good sense, though, because they get a nearly free chance to analyze it every time they drill through it to get to the Marcellus and the Utica, he said.
“I think there’s now just a real effort in the companies to look at every black shale,” Patchen said.
It is more likely a long-term play, experts said. The Devonian gets all its gas from what has floated up from the Marcellus over the ages, making that formation the easy, more bountiful target, experts said. Drillers will target the Marcellus first, and, in most cases, come back for the Upper Devonian later, maybe generations from now, they said.