Consol Energy plans to use $1.5 billion earned in the sale of five West Virginia coal mines to drill and frack Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas wells this year.
The company recently completed its $3.5 billion sale of "low-growth, non-core assets" to Murray Energy.
Consol now has a joint venture to drill wells in Ohio's Utica Shale with New York City-based Hess Corp. Together, the companies will drill 32 wells in the "liquids-rich" corridor of Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey and Noble counties.
In addition to dry methane, these wells contain valuable wet ethane, propane, butane, isobutane and pentane and also to invest $24 million in Monroe County. One well will target the liquids-rich Marcellus formation, while the other will be designed to penetrate the dry gas Utica zone. Both will be drilled from the same pad.
In the Marcellus Shale joint venture, Consol and partner Noble Energy plan to operate an average of 4 to 5 horizontal rigs each to drill at least 162 wells. They will drill at least 88 wells, including two beneath the Pittsburgh International Airport. Other locations for Marcellus drilling include Washington County, Pa., and Doddridge County, W.Va.