State's shale impact fee totals $209M for 2017

Paul J. Gough
Pittsburgh Business Times

Pennsylvania collected $209.5 million in shale impact fees from natural gas producers for 2017 — and Washington County and its municipalities saw a big increase due to a bump in drilling activity. Range Resources Corp. was the biggest contributor to the impact fee in 2017.

The impact fees, which are paid by every natural gas producer based on number of wells and the price of natural gas, are up about $36 million from 2016 and are the highest amount since 2014's $223.5 million. The data is reported annually by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and announced Thursday.

The rise in total collections was due to "an increase in the number of wells in Pennsylvania along with an increase in the average annual price of natural gas compared to the previous year," according to the PUC.

Washington County received the most money among the state's 66 counties, with $7.3 million, up from $5.23 million collected for Washington County in 2016. Greene County, another center of drilling in Pennsylvania, will receive $4.9 million, up from $3.7 million a year ago. Washington County and its towns will receive a total of $19.9 million while Greene County and its towns will receive $13.4 million.

The top seven natural gas producers each paid more than $12 million in shale impact fees and the top company to make payments was Range Resources Corp. (NYSE: RRC), which paid $31.7 million in 2017. It was followed by EQT Corp. (NYSE: EQT) that paid $23.1 million, Southwestern Production and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE: COG) that each paid $15 million.

"The tax revenues collected from the natural gas industry support local bridge, road and other critical infrastructure improvements, as well as community parks, first-responders, soil and water conservation districts, environmental projects and housing initiatives,” Marcellus Shale Coalition president David Spigelmyer said in a statement.