After dismal 2016, shale gas drillers begin to turn a corner

FILE - Workers move a section of well casing into place at a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site near Burlington, Bradford County, Pennsylvania, (AP File)

Pennsylvania’s drilling industry is showing signs of life.

Natural gas producers drilled more than twice as many shale wells in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period last year. About 20 additional drilling rigs are exploring for natural gas and fracking crews are suddenly in short supply.

One big reason is that natural gas prices have recovered from 20-year lows, nearly doubling since last year.

The pace remains much slower than it was during the industry’s boom years earlier this decade.

But David Spigelmyer, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group, says “there’s a cautious optimism out there right now” among drillers.

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