State collects $197 million in 1st round of Marcellus drilling fees
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HARRISBURG -- Pennsylvania drillers paid $197.6 million in the first round of Marcellus Shale impact fees, exceeding legislative estimates despite $8 million in disputed or uncollected payments.
Data released by the state Public Utility Commission this afternoon break down those collections by operator. According to the agency's calculations, 4,453 wells are liable for the fee this year, which is assessed on those drilled through the end of December.
That figure includes 4,034 horizontal wells, which are charged according to a larger fee scale that starts at $50,000. The 419 vertical wells, which tend to be shallower and less productive, are charged $10,000.
Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Appalachia LLC paid the largest amount, forking over nearly $31 million for its 624 wells. Canadian oil and gas company Talisman Energy was second with a $26.4 million payment on 540 wells, followed by Texas-based Range Resources paying $23.7 million on 475 wells.
The money collected will be distributed later this year, with about 60 percent going to counties and municipalities in the gas drilling region and the remainder going toward environmental projects, natural gas use incentives and other statewide programs.
Information on how much individual towns will receive was not available, due in part to ongoing disputes between the PUC and operators over whether 172 wells across the state should be liable for the fee. Most of those are vertical wells, according to PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher, though details were not released on which wells are under dispute.
Those assessments were created in the new state law approved in February, known as Act 13. The law also overhauled environmental regulations and outlined what towns can and cannot regulate in regard to gas drilling.
A Commonwealth Court panel overturned a section of the law related to zoning rights. The lawsuit that led to the ruling did not challenge the impact fee portion.
First Published September 10, 2012 4:37 pm