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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pittsburg has No desire to become the Fort Worth of the North

NOVEMBER 16, 2010

Pittsburgh says "no" to drilling

Pittsburgh has made it emphatically clear that it has no desire to become the Fort Worth of the North.

The western Pennsylvania city became the first in natural gas-rich Pennsylvania to prohibit drilling after city council members, voicing health and environmental concerns, unanimously approved the ban on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The council received a standing ovation after voting 9-0 to ban the search for gas within city limits.

Pittsburgh's decision is in sharp contrast to Fort Worth, the nerve center of drilling in North Texas' Barnett Shale, the biggest gas-producing area in the nation. Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, speaking at a recent shale gas conference in Grapevine, said that Cowtown, with 1,200 producing gas wells in the city and more drilling planned, is "running out of places to put these wells."

Pittsburgh sits atop part of the Marcellus Shale, which underlies large chunks of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York and has become the scene of frenzied drilling and leasing activity. Major participants in the play include Fort Worth-based Range Resources, Fort Worth-based XTO Energy (now a subsidiary of Irving-based Exxon Mobil) and Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, which all have substantial operations in the Barnett Shale. Range announced recently, however, that it plans to sell its Barnett assets.

--Jack Z. Smith

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