The boom is far from bust, but the pace of gas drilling in Pennsylvania is slowing, as a result of sustained, rock bottom gas prices that also are delivering massive savings to consumers and causing large displacement of coal generation by natural gas power plants. Drilling activity in 2012 will be lower than in 2011 and back to 2010 levels, according to data gathered at www.marcellusgas.org.
New shale gas drilling permits are expected to decline from 3,172 in 2011 to 2,506 in 2012 or a 21% drop. Starts of new gas wells are projected to decline from 2,069 in 2011 to 1,779 or a 14% drop.
While 2012 will see significant drops in both new permits and gas wells started, gas drilling activity in Pennsylvania still remains at high levels, despite 9 months of very low gas prices. The fact that drilling continues at such high levels in the face of persistently rock bottom gas pricing is remarkable and underlines that Marcellus gas is among the lowest-cost gas and most profitable gas to produce.