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What Can Public Data Tell Us?

   December Vol 8 Issue 8

What Can Public Data Tell Us?
By: Tom Foster, Foster Analytics

You may be aware that each state makes data about oil and gas wells available to the public. In the Marcellus/Utica region they can be found at the WV Department of Environmental Protection, the PA Department of Environmental Protection, and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The information provided varies for each state but they all include the oil production and gas production for each well. Despite this information being publicly available, it’s not easy to aggregate or explore. It’s great if you want to study a single well. It’s the big picture that takes some work.

Each state formats their data differently. For example, West Virginia and Pennsylvania record production on a monthly basis while Ohio does so on a quarterly basis. For each state, production can be found in one database while the well formation can be found in another. In order to look at the region as a whole, you have to perform a lot of reformatting and cleaning. This is sometimes called data wrangling, which should give you a sense of how this work feels.

PI recently explored the data from all three states. I also accessed another set from a site called, which has information about when the well was fracked and which chemicals were used. The purpose of the exploration was to predict well production from the publicly available data. I’ll go into the details of that in a later article. In short, I was usually able to predict the production of a well within 10%-15% accuracy.

Using the frac date retrieved from FracFocus and the values reported by each state, I calculated the well production for the following two quarters. For example, if a well was fracked in April of 2017, its initial well production was calculated using the next two full calendar quarters, July-August and September-Dec. I know that’s not the ideal way to calculate it but I was limited by the quarterly reporting method of Ohio. This was done for all of the wells in the region that were fracked in 2017.

This first map shows the initial gas production of wells fracked in 2017. As expected, most of the production is near the intersection of the three states, but northeast Pennsylvania is still producing it’s share of gas.

This first map shows the initial gas production of wells fracked in 2017. As expected, most of the production is near the intersection of the three states, but northeast Pennsylvania is still producing its share of gas.

This second map shows the initial production of oil for wells fracked in 2017. The success of the Utica wells in Ohio really stands out.

When looking at operators, Ascent and Antero produced the most gas from wells fracked in 2017.


For oil, Chesapeake was on top.

This has just been a glimpse at the regional data available if you work at it. If you’d like me to explore a particular aspect of this data, let me know.