Firm drops plan for gas drilling Pennsylvania amid opposition

FERNDALE, Pa. (AP) — A Michigan-based energy company has given up a six-year battle to drill for natural gas in southeastern Pennsylvania’s upper Bucks County, citing opposition from local government.

Terry Bela, manager of Arbor Resources, told The Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday that Nockamixon Township’s elected officials “made it impossible for the company to move forward.”

Arbor had signed hundreds of leases with landowners to drill exploratory wells, but Nockamixon Township fought the plan, arguing that the land wasn’t zoned for heavy industry.

Township attorney Jordan Yeager said the company sent him a letter last week saying it would drop its legal efforts.

“They were trying to ignore the rules that everybody else needs to live by,” he said. “When we stood up to them, they fought it. And now they’ve abandoned that fight.”

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State lawmakers last year said no drilling permits could be issued in Bucks and Montgomery counties pending a study of how much drillable gas is beneath them.

A recent U.S. Geological Survey report indicated that the South Newark Basin, which is below the township and stretches from north-central New Jersey to Montgomery County, could contain as much as 876 billion cubic feet of natural gas. But the Marcellus Shale formation in the western and northern parts of the state holds 160 times more gas, according to the latest U.S. Department of Energy estimates.

Dan Weaver, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association, said Arbor Resources’ decision comes as no shock.

“Do companies really want to spend their efforts and resources where they really don’t know what their yield might be?” Weaver said. “Drilling for natural gas here in Pennsylvania is based on economics, and it’s just not there.”

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