Fact Checking West Virginia Drilling Claims

Acting Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser told lawmakers in a budget hearing last month that only 20 Marcellus Shale gas wells have been drilled in West Virginia since that state enacted a drilling tax, while Pennsylvania has had more than 600 such wells drilled.

As we explained in a recent policy brief, that’s not quite accurate.

According to World Oil Online, West Virginia led the nation in new gas wells in 2010, along with Texas and Arkansas — all of which have drilling taxes. Pennsylvania, without a drilling tax, came in sixth, with 833 new wells.

West Virginia has had significant activity in the Marcellus Shale in particular. As of October 2010, West Virginia had 1,217 Marcellus Shale wells completed, with 862 new wells permitted.

In 2009, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were running neck in neck in total gas production. That same year, West Virginia also collected $85 million in drilling tax revenue and another $97 million in property taxes, while Pennsylvania collected neither.

For those of you keeping track at home, here’s a table showing the change in gas wells for the top six states:

Total Gas Wells

State 2009 2010 Gain/(Loss) % Change
West Virginia 50,602 52,498 1,896 3.7%
Texas 93,507 95,014 1,507 1.6%
Arkansas 6,225 7,507 1,282 20.6%
Kentucky 16,909 18,001 1,092 6.5%
Virginia 6,224 7,158 934 15.0%
Pennsylvania 56,636 57,469 833 1.5%
Total US 490,142 486,862 (3,280) -0.7%
Source. World Oil Online

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