After a quiet lull, activity surrounding natural gas exploration and production is picking up in Potter and Tioga counties. And, once again, the excitement is over a shale formation, this time the Utica shale.
Located a few thousand feet below the Marcellus shale, which caused a leasing frenzy in Pennsylvania a number of years back, the Utica has become the new drilling target after horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing procedures made the Marcellus the world’s largest natural gas field.
Initial results for Utica shale gas production are promising, with Royal Dutch Shell announcing in September that two Utica well drilled in Tioga County have seen production rates of 11.2 and 26.5 million cubic feet (Mmcf) per day. In October 2013, Seneca Resources reported a peak production rate of 8.5 Mmcf at its Utica well in McKean County.
Jim Addison, president and CEO of Travis Peak Resources, said the Utica is one of the most prolific plays going right now. His company, which is based in Austin, Texas, is expecting to lease 25,000 to 50,000 acres in Potter and Tioga counties.