Monday, January 11, 2010

Burgh Energy Report: 2010 Projections

Like Pittsburgh's regional economy, drilling in the Marcellus Shale is bucking national trends. As long as the well yields high volumes of natural gas, drilling remains profitable in a climate of over-supply. Talisman Energy is particularly bullish:

The company says its main priority in 2010 will be to ramp up development of its shale gas proprieties while maintaining stable cash generation from the North Sea. ...

... Talisman has been bulking up its shale land holdings, and increasing its focus on unconventional natural gas development. Last year, it announced plans to open an office in Pittsburgh to handle its increased presence in Pennsylvania.

On Monday, Talisman said it aims to double its development drilling in Pennsylvania, a shale gas exploration region that stretches into New York state and Quebec.

In Quebec, the company plans to test its first horizontal pilot well, with plans for another two horizontal wells later this year. Overall, Talisman plans to spend $270 million on core conventional properties in Canada, it said.

I suspect that this rush will keep pressure on the Pennsylvania government to delay tax increases, at least until the market recovers a bit. Furthermore, there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the environmental viability of the hydrofracking drilling process. The threat of a changing regulatory regime might help explain some of the current bump in activity despite very small margins.

Another looming problem is infrastructure. In Britain, the cold winter has dramatically boosted demand for natural gas. Supply isn't the problem. The issue is delivery. (Via Aaron Renn's Twitter feed) All that energy has no place to go. With all the drilling going on in Pennsylvania, will we soon see a boom in activity increasing the capacity to consume natural gas?


Mark Arsenal said...

LNG terminals on the Allegheny, I say. Revitalize our working waterfront. Whatcha think?

Jim Russell said...

I suspect that the real game-changer, at least concerning the supply glut, would be replacing coal with natural gas for electricity production.