Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Stop the Fear Mongering: Potential of a Triple Gas Play in Otsego County

I recently read an email message that was forwarded my way.  It stated that Norse’s plans for Chenango County that can be found here are a “blueprint” for what will come our way in Otsego County. 
I am no energy guru but a look at slide number 5 of the Norse Energy presentation shows a cross section of a triple play in the acreage that Norse Energy has leased in Chenango County. The triple play in this case is the Marcellus, the Herkimer and the Utica; so since Otsego County sits atop similar formations then the insinuation is that we can expect the same.  
Not so fast. There are many things that determine the "playability" of a formation. One of the drivers for our county’s Natural Gas development is the geology. The depth determines the pressure of the gas. Operators talk about “under pressured” and “over pressured” formations.  Under pressured formations are not very interesting and neither are overcooked formations. The other is the regulations. For any Marcellus wells under 2000 feet the permit application requires a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the site which is an added cost. So, companies would rather explore where they are no added conditions.
On Slide 21: Active Marcellus in PA is at 4000 to approximately 9000 feet. Marcellus in Otsego County is mostly below 2000 feet in depth. Marcellus will not be a major player for most of the Otsego County.
One Slide 22: The Utica formation is attractive at greater than 3000 feet. This may be interesting for a gas play in about half Otsego County.
FYI: The proof can be found in the NYSDEC map of the extent of the Marcellus, the portion of Otsego County that is blue has the highest probability of having a triple play, roughly less than a 1/5th of the County. Definitely does not include the Town of Maryland nor does it include all the Towns that are rapidly passing bans in our County.

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