How to Drill for Natural Gas on Your Property in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania is famous for its history of oil and natural gas exploration and drilling. The first oil well was built there in 1859 by Edwin Drake. If you have an entrepreneurial spirit and are a property owner in Pennsylvania, you may find as Drake did that drilling can be a lucrative enterprise. Yet even though there is money to be made, regulations and preparation abound. Such knowledge is necessary for anyone who wants to drill natural gas on his own property.

Preparation

  • Obtain a well operator permit from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PDEP). The permit or registration number identifies you as a well operator as the possession of a deed to property with a well on it does not establish operation rights.

  • Post the necessary bond. The surety or collateral bond for a well can cost $2,500 at minimum in Pennsylvania (as of publication date). This bond provides an incentive for you to use the well and follow proper procedure. If the well is not used for one year, it is considered inactive and you will be required to plug it. Plugging a well can incur a high cost as well.

  • Disclose the locality, proximity to coal seams and distance from water sources. This will be done via paperwork provided by the PDEP.

  • Contact the PDEP and ask about their Oil and Gas Management Program. This is a service provided by the state of Pennsylvania to educate drillers.

  • After the well is operational, you will need to configure a method for collecting brine. Most collection stations take brine for about 10 cents per gallon; some localities will take brine without charge in order to use it on the roads. Once the well is running, it is necessary to turn in an annual production report to the PDEP. You should keep any paperwork that pertains to the well, whether from a prior owner or the PDEP.

Well Construction

  • Post your name, contact information and permit number at the drill site. Ensure that you are drilling 200 feet away from the nearest building and 100 feet away from any water source. You could be held responsible for contamination to water up to 1,000 feet away.

  • Build a road to your site or ensure that equipment will be able to be transferred to and from the well. Clear the site and set up your equipment. Use a rotary rig to drill well to the desired length. This length will be determined by various factors, including the records and logs of other local wells.

  • Log the well. A log is a tool which is able to calculate the place in the rock formation below the opening where explosives should go to prepare for hydro-fracturing. It is lowered by a cable into the well.

  • Hydro-fracture the well. Hydro-fracturing is a process whereby the rock formations are treated in order to release compressed reserves.

  • Connect well head and meter. Once this task is completed, the well is ready for extraction.

References

  • Photo Credit Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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