screen-shot-2014-09-04-at-9-43-51-am-150x150-2915109There’s been a huge increase in gas production in the Utica shale region, including two highly productive finds just across the New York border in northern Pennsylvania. And so the economic opportunity cost of New York State’s moratorium on shale gas exploration keeps on rising.

From Bloomberg News (with hat tip to the AEIdeas blog):

Two gas finds in Tioga County, Pennsylvania, announced today by Europe’s largest oil company are more than 300 miles away from the epicenter of Utica shale drilling in Monroe County, Ohio. Shell, which has been selling gas assets in other parts of the U.S. to focus on its highest-profit prospects, said it owns drilling rights across about 430,000 acres in the discovery zone, an area five times the size of Philadelphia.


The Utica “could be much bigger” than previously mapped, said Kayla Macke, a Shell spokeswoman.

Shell’s discoveries, known as Gee and Neal, were found about two miles underground. The Gee well was producing 11.2 million cubic feet of gas a day when output began a year ago. The Neal well saw a peak in daily production of 26.5 million cubic feet after drilling ended in February.

Shell, based in The Hague, held off on publicizing the well results for months to avoid alerting competitors to the potential bonanza in that part of Pennsylvania.

As shown in the map below, the Utica Shale is deep beneath the Marcellus Shale region.  Both shale formations are thought to offer especially rich deposits beneath one of the poorest and slowest-growing regions of New York, the Southern Tier, which includes the stagnant Binghamton and Elmira metro areas. Those gas deposits can effectively be harvested using the new technique of deep-underground horizontal drilling aided by hydraulic fracturing – but Governor Andrew Cuomo has been stalling the issuance of regulations that would allow gas hydrofracking in New York. 

Speaking of northern Pennsylvania and the Southern Tier, here’s a chart illustrating how the two neighboring areas have been faring based on a comparison of one key economic indicator.


As of 2007, Chemung County, New York, including Elmira, had 3,639 more private sector jobs than the combined total for neighboring Bradford County and Tioga Counties in Pennsylvania.  But over the next five years, as average employment in Chemung County dropped by 5 percent, average employment in Bradford and Tioga counties increased by 11 percent. Result: in 2013, Chemung County had 1,306 fewer jobs than the two counties across the Pennsylvania border.

Note: private employment actually dropped on both sides of the border in 2013.  The decrease was slightly larger in Bradford and Tioga counties, at -2.4 percent, than in Chemung, where employment was down 2 percent. This may reflect the decline in the number of new gas wells being drilled south of the border.  However, even after drilling crews leave, continuing gas production should generate higher royalty incomes for local landowners and higher revenues for local governments.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Despite Lingering Shortages, New York’s Health-Care Workforce Is Bigger Than Ever

The state's health-care workforce is recovering unevenly from the pandemic, with persistently lower employment levels in some areas and robust growth in others. This mixed pattern c Read More

High Taxes Aren’t a Problem, Supporters of High Taxes Say

A declaring "no statistically significant evidence of tax migration in New York" and finding "high earners’ migration rates returned to pre-Covid levels" during 2022 has a glaring problem: It relies heavily on an almost microscopic sample size of self- Read More

The Wacky Math of New York’s Essential Plan

Thanks to an absurdly wasteful federal law, New York's Essential Plan is expected to continue running billion-dollar surpluses even as state officials more than double its spending over the next several years. Read More

NY 2nd in the Nation for Homeschooling Growth

A Washington Post analysis of homeschooling trends revealed that families in New York have flocked to home education at rates Read More

Don’t Tell The Grownups: NY Still Hiding State Test Scores

State education officials are refusing to release the results of federally required assessments in grades 3 through 8, deliberately keeping parents and taxpayers in the dark—not only about how New York’s public schools performed, but also about how that performance was measured. Read More

In a Tight Budget Year, New York’s Hospital Lobby Shoots for the Moon

As Governor Hochul calls for spending restraint next year, influential hospital lobbyists are pushing what could be the costliest budget request ever floated in Albany. In a , the G Read More

What You Should Know: NY’s changing graduation requirements

Months after lowering the scores to pass state assessment exams, New York education officials are considering eliminating the Regents diploma. Read More

Putting the Mission in Hochul’s Health Commission

Last week Governor Hochul answered one big question about her Commission on the Future of Health Care – the names of its members – but left a fundamental mystery unresolved:  W Read More

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!