Pennsylvania’s gas-well revenue down as price, drilling drop

Pennsylvania News

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WETM/AP) — Pennsylvania’s counties and municipal governments will see the lowest level of annual fee revenue they get from Marcellus Shale gas wells, as drilling slowed and prices sank during the pandemic, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission said Monday.

Impact fee revenue from Marcellus Shale wells sank to $146 million from drilling activity in 2020, down $54 million from the year before, the commission said.

“Has it slowed down? Yes, it has. There is a curve and there’s still revenue. There’s gas flowing. It’s not as abundant and it’s not as aggressive as it was. I hope there’s some realization of how important natural gas is,” Tioga County Commissioner Erick Coolidge said.

Lawmakers authorized the fee in 2012, pinning it to new wells and the price of natural gas.

But the average price of natural gas in 2020 was $2.08 per million British thermal units, down from $2.63 in 2019. Pennsylvania also saw the fewest number of new wells drilled than in any year since the law was enacted, the commission said.

“It defers with the general fund money to say in that general fund and we are able to do projects that are critical to infrastructure, or to regular maintenance. Those types of upkeep would otherwise come out of the general fund and now supplemented for the benefit of our citizens,” Coolidge added.

Most of the money, about $71.5 million, goes to the county and municipal governments, while smaller amounts are earmarked for environmental improvement programs, roadway repairs, and water and sewer infrastructure upgrades.

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