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Letters to the Editor

September 23, 2013

Locally, Marcellus shale is no cash cow

Mr. Pinkey, between his false choices, should hope that what will save us is a) boutique farms, wineries, tattoo parlors, (and) candle and incense shops, because it will not be b) gas exploration. 

In the northern tier of Pennsylvania, the world-class production of shale gas occurs only at the junction of Bradford, Susquehanna, and Wyoming counties — an area about the size of one county. Beneath there, the Marcellus is thick (300 feet) and deep (7,000 feet). Production drops off sharply away from there as the shale thins and shallows. In the southern tier of New York, the vast majority of the Marcellus probably does not contain economically-recoverably gas. 

Should HVHF be permitted in New York, profitable drilling is likely only in some border towns of Broome, Delaware, and Sullivan counties. In the future, with sharply higher prices of gas, the fairway for Marcellus would expand, but is unlike to include the full width of those border counties. This should not be news because industry has depicted fairways of a similar extent least since 2008. Yet the oil and gas industry and leasing coalitions have hyped drilling as the economic salvation of the southern tier.

As for the Utica fairway, it is not clear that there is any in the central and eastern Southern Tier. The Marcellus is mature source, containing dry gas. With the Utica being buried thousands of feet deeper and hotter, it is likely over-mature, with the methane breaking down into water and carbon dioxide. And the thickest area of the Utica is in Delaware County, beneath the watersheds of the New York City reservoirs, off limits.

In planning the recovery of our local economy, we should rely not on subterranean fracking fantasies, but on making the most of sustainable industries on the surface.

Brian Brock


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