The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

January 15, 2012

Consol Energy plans coal, natural gas investments

BENWOOD — Consol Energy says it plans to spend $1.7 billion this year to develop coal and natural gas assets.

The Canonsburg, Pa.-based company says more than 40 percent of that money will focus on growing its increasing stake in the Marcellus and Utica shale.

The Wheeling News-Register reports that Consol plans to drill 61 Marcellus wells and 11 Utica wells this year. The energy company also has plans to eventually increase its drilling numbers to 158 new wells in the Marcellus field in 2014, and 33 new wells in the Utica formation that year.

“This ... reflects our desire to create shareholder value by investing in our highest rate of return projects: our organic opportunities in coal, gas, and liquids,” J. Brett Harvey, chairman and chief executive officer of Consol, said in a statement.

Consol operates the Shoemaker and McElroy coal mining operations in Marshall County. The company did not provide specific investment information on those mines. However, Consol does plan to spend $50 million for safety at coal mines this year, up from just $18 million last year.

According to West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection records, its natural gas subsidiary, CNX Gas Corp., now has active gas drilling operations in Marshall and Wetzel counties.

Consol plans to use $575 million in 2012 to drill wells and develop assets in its Marcellus acreage across West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Company officials have estimated Consol holds about 663,350 acres of natural gas reserves across the two states.

It also plans to spend $90 million to construct compression stations and gather pipelines to transport gas from the Marcellus wells it drills this year.

With the planned Marcellus and Utica drilling, Consol says it will scale back on shallow coal bed methane drilling this year.

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