We’ve recently updated the New York State Oil and Gas Well Viewer with data up to 2020. The map and data below show that conventional gas drilling in New York State has decreased significantly since the first decade of 2000, but drilling for oil in western New York has increased in the past few years. In part thanks to the fracking ban in New York State, less than 1% of the wells in New York State have been drilled unconventionally.
Currently, there are more active gas wells in New York State than all other types combined. Fewer than 1% of the wells in the New York State database have been drilled directionally or horizontally. And only a fraction of those were gas wells. Since 2014, high-volume hydraulic fracturing has been banned, due to health and environmental concerns.
Western New York State was once a very active region for oil drilling, but today, only 21% of all oil wells are still active. Additional well types include brine solution mines. Many of these mines, once a large enough cavern has been dissolved, are later converted into storage mines for gas.
|Well type, as of 24 January 2020||Status = Active||Status = Other (includes plugged and abandoned, unlisted/unknown, converted, voided/expired permit, etc.)|
|Gas well||6,721 (58% of all active wells)||4,214 (13% of “other” categories)|
|Oil well||3,581 (31% of all active wells)||13,217 (40% of “other” categories)|
|Storage well||840 (7% of all active wells)||146 (<1% of “other” categories)|
|Monitoring well||165 (1% of all active wells)||311 (1% of “other” categories)|
|Brine well||138 (1% of all active wells)||593 (2% of “other” categories)|
|Other (145 geothermal, 7724 category not listed)||85 (1% of all active wells)||7,784 (23% of “other” categories)|
|Disposal well||36 (<1% of all active wells)||4,186 (13% of “other” categories)|
|Dry hole||4 (<1% of all active wells)||2,786 (8% of “other” categories)|
Patterns in Well Drilling
Well drilling in New York State was at a high point between the mid-1960s and the early 1990s. After another peak in activity in the first decade of the 21st century with conventional gas drilling, activity has dropped off sharply.
Figure 1. Oil and gas wells in New York State per year, 1990-2020. Data from NYS DEC.
A Potential Uptick in the Past Few Years
While gas drilling in New York State has tapered off dramatically, drilling for oil in Cattaraugus County in western New York has increased significantly since 2017.
Figure 2. Oil wells drilled in Cattaraugus County, New York, 2018-19. Data from NYS DEC.
Nearly every one of the 169 new wells drilled in New York State during 2019 was an oil well within 5 miles of St. Bonaventure in Cattaraugus County. We’ll be following up shortly with a more in-depth analysis of the issues and risks associated with this oil “boom” in the upper reaches of the Allegheny River of New York State.