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Pennsylvania's drilling fee revenue is dropping by about 3 percent, below $200 million, as lower gas prices triggered lower fees that deep-shale drillers must pay to the state.

State officials expect to collect about $198 million in per-well fees that lawmakers approved last year to cover road work, conservation, housing and other costs from drilling's impact. That's down about $6 million from last year, according to data the Public Utility Commission put on its website Wednesday.

In the new oil and gas law known as Act 13, state lawmakers tied the fee to the price of gas, leading the PUC to lower the fee for each well in 2012 by about $5,000. The annual average natural gas price dropped by a third from 2011 to 2012, down to $2.78 per thousand cubic feet, according to the commission's calculations. The owners of horizontal wells drilling in 2012 had to pay $45,000 for each, and the owners of older wells had to pay $35,000 for each.

“The drilling is still robust in the western part of Pennsylvania, and has tapered off somewhat in the other regions. ... .....


Some communities are concerned about the decline in fees. Westmoreland County, and just about every area east of Pittsburgh saw a decline in drilling in 2012, which means their funding may go down. .....

This is the second year of the unconventional drilling impact fee, and the first time it was due by April 1. The money is divided based on a formula in the law that first feeds set amounts to some state agencies. Most of the rest goes to municipal and county governments, largely based on where drilling is happening.......

Gas companies drilled 1,357 new deep-shale wells in Pennsylvania last year, Kocher said. Nearly all of those were horizontal and got charged a full fee of $45,000 each. .....

The state had about $9 million of drilling money unaccounted for.

EXCO Resources PA LLC failed to pay about $4.9 million, PUC data shows. The commission electronically sent an invoice to an EXCO employee who had left the company, which did wire the payment to the state on Wednesday, .....


PUC data initially showed that Atlas Resources LLC had $2.2 million in fees missing. The commission confirmed late Wednesday it received the payment on time. Parent company Atlas Energy LP in Findlay had a receipt dated March 29, spokesman Brian Begley said.

“As is sometimes ordinary with these things, there's a bit of a lag there,” Begley said. “We're trying to make it clear to them that they should have this data correct before they publish it.” ...

Total expected collections could still rise, too, but commission officials are not sure by how much. Some wells are in dispute and could later be classified as unconventional under the state's new oil and gas laws, Kocher said. She did not know how many were still in limbo. ...




http://triblive.com/business/headlines/3770535-74/drilling-fee-state#axzz2PUg8se1N
 
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