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As Pace Of Natural Gas Drilling Slows In Pa., State Holds Large Share Of Nation’s Wells

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file photo (credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

file photo (credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) – Pennsylvania’s top energy official says the natural gas industry in the state has changed in recent years, but remains strong.

Patrick Henderson, the governor’s top energy policy advisor, says there has been a decline in the number of wells drilled over the last two years in Pennsylvania. Drilling began on 1,900 wells in 2011, and only 1,300 last year. But he says it’s misleading to draw conclusions from that statistic alone.

“The wells drilled in 2009, 2010, 2011 – we’re seeing a lot of capital spent in putting them into production.”

Henderson says there was a frenetic pace of well-drilling early on, because leases stipulated that wells had to be drilled to hold the land. Now, he says the emphasis in Pennsylvania has shifted toward building the infrastructure to get gas out of the ground and out to market.

And while it’s true that there has been a shift toward oil in terms how drilling rigs are being deployed nationally, Henderson says of those that are still drilling gas, the percentage located in Pennsylvania is higher now than in 2011.

“At the high water mark in 2011, 12.5 percent of all gas rigs in the United States were located in Pennsylvania. Today it’s over 15.5 percent.”

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