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DEP report: State had record year for natural gas production in 2017

September 27, 2018

The Poseidon well pad in Penn Township. (Submitted)

Pennsylvania had a record year for natural gas production in 2017, making it the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States, the state Department of Environmental Protection said on Friday.

Unconventional well operators produced 5.36 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2017 -- about a quarter-trillion more than in 2016, according to the DEP’s 2017 Oil & Gas Annual Report.

Unconventional wells are those that access large reservoirs of underground natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a method that uses horizontal drilling and large volumes of water. The first unconventional natural gas well was drilled in Pennsylvania in 2004, the report said.

Since then, production levels have steadily risen, requiring more permitting and inspection activities from the DEP.

According to the report, the DEP:issued 2,028 unconventional well permits in 2017 -- 707 more than in 2016;conducted 36,288 compliance inspections (including 16,296 unconventional well inspections) in 2017 -- 2 percent more than in 2016;found 821 unconventional well violations in 2017 -- a 95 percent compliance rate for unconventional operators.collected $3.5 million in fines and penalties for noncompliance at oil and gas sites in 2017.

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