Washington County gains ground on Susquehanna as state's top natural gas producer

Paul J. Gough
Pittsburgh Business Times

Natural gas production in Pennsylvania rose 6.8% in the third quarter of 2021 compared to a year before, but the number of new wells drilled fell to nearly the lowest point in five years. And Washington County gained ground on Susquehanna County for the most quarterly production in Pennsylvania.

There were 111 wells drilled in the third quarter ended Sept. 30, the same as the same period a year ago when drilling fell sharply due to the drop in demand from the Covid-19 pandemic. Q3 2020's well drilling was itself down 17.8% from the year before, according to data released Monday by the Independent Fiscal Office off of Pennsylvania Department of Economic Protection data.

Production rose by nearly 7% year over year in the quarter, but IFO said the growth had occurred in September as prices continued their recent climb. Prices have jumped 187% to $3.54 per million BTU compared to $1.23 per million BTU a year ago, according to Bentek Energy's Pennsylvania average.

Susquehanna remained the top gas producer in the county, with 21% of the total production. But production in Susquehanna was down 2.3% compared to a year ago.

Gaining ground was Washington County, which saw production growth soar 17% year-over-year to an 18.4% share of the state's production. Also gaining were the next three biggest counties in Pennsylvania, Bradford (up 22%), Greene (up 5%) and Lycoming (up 9.7%).

The most producing wells were in Washington County, which had 17.3% of the state's producing wells with 1,794 and grew 6.6%. Susquehanna had 16% and 1,681 wells while Greene County had 13.5% of the state's producing wells. Greene County was up 4.8% year over year.