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Frequently Asked Questions

A list of the most commonly asked natural gas questions and their answers.

Review this list of questions and answers and if you still have a question, visit our Contact page.

Q: Where can I find maps or listings of permits that have been acquired for Marcellus Shale drilling?

A: The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) has maps and spreadsheets of the permits. For maps, you would click on Marcellus Shale and then “2010 Permits Issued & Wells Drilled Maps” (or the year of information you are looking for)

For the spreadsheet of permits, you would click on Reports and then “2010 Permit & Rig Activity Reports.”

You may also want to subscribe to the PA DEP’s e-notice system, which can notify you on well permit applications received in the counties your request.

Q: How do I know if I am part of a production unit?

A: It is up to the gas company to determine the production unit. They should notify all who are in the production unit. If they so choose, the company will file a copy of the Declaration of Pooling and Unitization Agreement at the county recorder’s office, which would be public record. If you are interested in viewing the agreement, it is helpful to have a parcel number, which can be obtained from the Assessor’s office

Q: Does the Marcellus Shale extend into my area?

A: The Marcellus Shale extends over a vast region. You can find several maps depicting the extent of the shale on our website or at the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research website. Although the Marcellus Shale may show in a variety of areas, it may not at this time be economically feasible to develop.

Q: My property is surrounded by neighbors who have leased their properties to gas companies for Marcellus Shale drilling, but no one has approached me. What should I do?

A: A company will typically come back to fill in the gaps in an area they are considering for a unit, but it just might not be right away. Most companies prefer having leases with all of the land in a drilling unit as opposed to leaving spaces or gaps. Talk with your neighbors and ask them which gas companies have interest in the area. Check the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) website for companies active in your county and township.

Q: Can a gas company drill for natural gas on my property without obtaining a lease? Can a well from a neighboring property horizontally extend and extract gas from under my property?

A: A company cannot drill on your property without obtaining a lease for it, nor can they horizontally drill under your property without obtaining a lease for it. However, when there is a well near a property line, it is possible for gas from an area of greater concentration to flow to an area or lesser concentration – from under your property to the horizontal leg not under your property. Pennsylvania Law applies to the “Rule of Capture”. For more information, read this brief description.

Q: How much natural gas is being extracted from wells in my area?

A: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has passed a law stating that gas companies must release production numbers every six months. PA DEP’s website has posted that information for the period of July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010. Keep in mind, there are many factors that can contribute to the volume of gas produced. Unknown factors such as length of the well, total fracs, differences in types of wells, length of time producing, etc. all influence the total production numbers.

Q:  I am currently enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Clean and Green Program. How would allowing Marcellus Shale drilling on my property affect my enrollment in the program?

A:  In October 2010, Act 88 of 2010 was signed into law, which amends the Clean and Green Law to help protect Marcellus gas landowners.

Under Senate Bill 298, a roll-back tax could be levied only on the portion of land filed under the well restoration report and land which is incapable of being immediately used for agricultural use, agricultural reserve or forest reserve. Land devoted to subsurface transmission or gathering lines would be exempt from a roll-back tax, which is the difference between the taxes paid based on the Clean and Green rate and the taxes that would have been paid if the land were not enrolled in Clean and Green.  

Q:  I am concerned about the effects of Marcellus Shale drilling on my drinking water supply. Are there any precautions I can take to ensure that the quality of my drinking water has not been compromised?

A: If a Marcellus well will be drilled within 1,000 feet (or perhaps even further) from your drinking water supply, there is a good chance that the drilling company will want to test your water to document its quality before they begin drilling. Recent updates to the Oil and Gas Act stipulate that when water quality testing is done by a drilling company, the landowner and the PA DEP are each required to receive a copy of all water test reports within ten days of the gas company receiving them.

If you are outside of this distance, you may want to have your well tested voluntarily by hiring a state accredited water laboratory. We also have more information on managing your private water well or spring near gas drilling in our fact sheet.

Q: The gas company that I have a lease with is asking to do seismic testing on my property. What is seismic testing, and what does it mean for me?

A: Companies will do seismic testing in areas to develop more information regarding the various shale plays, the thickness, and depths. This information then helps them determine their strategies for development, such as well pad placement and drilling directions.

Q: Are there any public meetings offering more information about Marcellus Shale?

A: Penn State Extension holds various public programming and webinars across the state. These programs are posted on our events page and we also try and advertise them in local newspapers.

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