Roper: Is Marcellus play too near its peak to justify three huge new pipelines? – Roanoke Times: Letters

Many articles about the three proposed natural-gas pipelines to cross the mountains of Virginia have been published in The Roanoke Times. Most have not mentioned that the Marcellus shale play is near a peak in extraction of gas and extraction will decline steadily thereafter.

It is important to have reliable estimates of the amount of Marcellus natural gas that will be available in the future to be transported through the three huge pipelines being proposed, to see if it is sufficient to justify the expense of and environmental damage done by constructing the pipelines.

The best analysis of Marcellus gas extraction and projected future extraction has been done by petroleum scientist J. David Hughes, published as a book ( and online at The Marcellus well-by-well and geological analysis starts on Page 259. Figure 3-99 on Page 280 shows the extraction peak at about 2018, the time projected for the completion of the Mountain Valley pipeline.

Hughes’ analysis shows that, after the peak at about 2018, the extraction will fall to about half the peak amount by 2045. So, the amount of fracked natural gas that will be available to transport through the pipelines after any of the three proposed pipelines are built, about 2018, will be starting on a steady decline.

The gas companies surely know this, but are desperate to sell their fracked gas at much higher prices overseas than the very low prices that have been the case in the U.S. The price has been varying around $2.75 per thousand cubic feet for several months (, much lower than the cost of extracting the gas, about $4.85 (

Many gas-extracting companies have over-borrowed to pay for the leases and wells and several have already filed for bankruptcy (

It may be the case that shale-gas extraction from the Marcellus play will be lower than Hughes’ curve if many of the gas companies extracting there go bankrupt.

Hughes’ analyses show that shale-gas and tight-oil extraction for the major U.S. plays have already peaked or are near peaking (, contrary to what many politicians have claimed.

via Roper: Is Marcellus play too near its peak to justify three huge new pipelines? – Roanoke Times: Letters.