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Marcellus Shale - Appalachian Basin Natural Gas
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"If the Marcellus Shale holds up to the optimistic expectations of some natural gas experts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia could temporarily have an enormous boost in income that might be sustained for a few decades."

In early 2008, Terry Englander, a geoscience professor at Pennsylvania State University, and Gary Lash, a geology professor at the State University of New York at Fredonia, surprised everyone with estimates that the Marcellus might contain more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Using some of the same horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods that had previously been applied in the Barnett Shale of Texas, perhaps 10% of that gas (50 trillion cubic feet) might be recoverable. That volume of natural gas would be enough to supply the entire United States for about two years and have a wellhead value of about one trillion dollars! - more

Economic Significance of the Marcellus Shale Gas Field

The presence of an enormous volume of potentially recoverable gas in the eastern United States has a great economic significance. This will be some of the closest natural gas to the high population areas of New Jersey, New York and New England. This transportation advantage will give Marcellus gas a distinct advantage in the marketplace.

Gas produced from the shallower, western portion of the Marcellus extent (see map above) might be transported to cities in the central part of the United States. It should have a positive impact on the stability of natural gas supply of the surrounding region for at least several years if the resource estimate quoted above proves accurate.

Gas Leases & Signing Bonuses

Many landowners are being approached with offers to lease their land. The size of the signing bonuses that have been paid in transactions between informed buyers and informed sellers is directly related to two factors: 1) the level of uncertainty in the mind of the buyer, and 2) the number of other buyers competing to make the purchase. These factors have changed significantly in a very short time.

As recently as 2005 there was very little interest in leasing properties for Marcellus Shale gas production. The Marcellus was not considered to be an important gas resource and a technology for tapping it had not been demonstrated. At that time the level of uncertainty in the minds of the buyers was very high and the signing bonuses were a few dollars per acre.

When the potential of the Marcellus was first suspected in 2006 a small number of speculators began leasing land - paying risky signing bonuses that were sometimes as high as $100 per acre. In late 2007 signing bonuses of a few hundred dollars per acre were common. Then, as the technology was demonstrated and publicized signing bonuses began to rise rapidly. By early 2008 several wells with strong production rates were drilled, numerous investors began leasing and the signing bonuses rose from a few hundred dollars per acre up to over $2000 per acre for the most desirable properties.

If the results of current and future drilling activity do not match the expectations of companies paying for leases the amounts that they are willing to pay could drop rapidly.

Gas Royalties

Although signing bonuses generate an enormous amount of interest because they are guaranteed income, royalties can be significantly higher. A royalty is a share of a well's income. The customary royalty rate is 12.5 percent of the value of gas produced by a well. Higher royalty rates are sometimes paid by aggressive buyers for highly desirable properties.

The royalties paid to eligible property owners from a well yielding over one million cubic feet of natural gas per day can be hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

If the Marcellus Shale holds up to the optimistic expectations of some natural gas experts, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia could temporarily have an enormous boost in income that might be sustained for a few decades.
Gas Royalty Calculator
Posted on: Jan. 1, 2009 2:41pm,UTC
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