Pennsylvania Shale Viewer

This map contains numerous data layers that help understand unconventional drilling activity in PA. View the map details below to learn more, or click on the map to explore the dynamic version of this data.

Last updated: 5/20/2021

13,004

Drilled Unconventional Wells

17,220

Violations at Unconventional Well Sites


PA Map Details

This map contains data related to unconventional oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania, as well as several data layers intended to enhance the viewer’s spatial reference.

In Pennsylvania, unconventional wells include wells drilled into both the well-known Marcellus Shale, the emerging Utica Shale and a number of less well known formations.  Oil and gas wells are marked as unconventional by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) if the following conditions apply:
An unconventional gas well is a well that is drilled into an Unconventional formation, which is defined as a geologic shale formation below the base of the Elk Sandstone or its geologic equivalent where natural gas generally cannot be produced except by horizontal or vertical well bores stimulated by hydraulic fracturing.

Due to the large file sizes, this map also contains generalized layers for five oil and gas related datasets:  pits, compressor stations, violations, drilled wells, and permits.  They show the location of their respective content when the map is zoomed out past 1:500,000, but do not include specific well or facility data.  To access these data, zoom in to 1:500,000 (about the size of a county) or beyond, at which point the generalized layers will disappear, and the data for the specific facility or event will become available in popup boxes by clicking on the map icons.

Name: Disposal Wells
Source: Pennsylvania DEP and US EPA
Date: 2-2021
Notes: This layer contains information on Underground Injection Control Class II Salt Water Disposal (SWD) Injection wells. These wells are designed to dispose of oil and gas liquid waste beneath the surface, but are associated with numerous problems, including earthquakes and introducing toxic, radioactive waste beneath people’s homes where it can sometimes communicate with aquifers and even surface water, polluting the environment.  In the past, Pennsylvania’s geology was considered unsuitable for this type of well, but due to the increasing amount of liquid waste produced by unconventional wells in the state, they are increasingly being permitted anyway.  The EPA data included here comes from a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted by FracTracker Alliance.  There were numerous inconsistencies between the DEP and EPA datasets in this small inventory.
Name:  Unconventional Violations
Source:  PADEP
Date Range:  1-1-2005 through 5-20-2021
Notes:  For the original data, follow link above to “Oil and Gas Compliance Report”.  The original data does not include latitude and longitude coordinates.  We obtained those with a two step process of matching API numbers with the Unconventional Wells and Proposed Locations (below), netting 12,082 matches.  Violations assessed to the well pad itself (instead of an individual well) were matched using the Site ID number, yielding another 5,138 matches.  Altogether, there have been 17,220 violations assessed to unconventional well sites since 2005, or about 1.3 violations per well drilled.   Due to the large number of records, this layer isn’t visible until users zoom in to 1:500,000, or about the size of a small county. 

Name:  Unconventional Wells and Proposed Locations
Source:  PADEP GIS Portal

Date Range:  1-1-2000 through 5-20-2021
Notes:  This data layer contains unconventional well data in Pennsylvania.  However, not all of these wells have been drilled.  This layer is categorized by well status, which includes Abandoned, Active, Operator Reported Not Drilled, Plugged OG Well, Proposed but Never Materialized, and Regulatory Inactive Status.  To determine whether the well has been permitted, drilled, or plugged, look for the presence of an entry in the Permit Date, Spud Date, and Plug Date field, respectively.  Altogether, there are 22,573 wells in this inventory, of which 12,076 currently have an active status.   Note that an active status does not mean that the well has been drilled.  Altogether, 13,004 wells have spud dates, and 1,133 (8.7%) have plug dates. The plug dates do not exactly match the plugged well status, which only includes 1,058 wells. Pennsylvania started replacing blank dates in the permit, spud, and plug fields with the date January 1, 1970; FracTracker removed those dummy dates to help minimizing confusion.  Due to the large number of records, this layer isn’t visible until users zoom in to 1:500,000, or about the size of a small county.  
 
Name: Digitized Pipeline Routes
Source: FracTracker Alliance, digitized from various sources
Date: 8-2020
Notes: This data layer includes pipeline routes that were digitized by FracTracker Alliance from a variety of sources.  The locational accuracy of these routes are believed to be reasonably accurate, and in some cases very accurate.  This is not a full inventory of pipelines in the state, but a reflection of recent projects.  Statuses as August 2020 are included.

Name:  SkyTruth Pits (2013)
Source:  SkyTruth
Date Range:  2013
Notes:  Prior to December 2014, this map contained a layer of pits that were contained in Oil and Gas Locations file available on PASDA.  However, that layer was far from complete – for example, it included only one pit in Washington County at a time which news reports mentioned that seven pits in the county were scheduled to be closed.  Therefore, we have opted to include this crowdsourced layer developed by SkyTruth, where volunteers analyzed state aerial imagery data from 2013.  SkyTruth’s methodology for developing the dataset is detailed in the link above.  529 pits have been identified through this effort.

Name:  Compressor Stations Emissions (2019)
Source:  Pennsylvania DEP Air Emissions Report
Date:  2019
Notes:  
This compressor layer includes data from the Pennsylvania DEP Air Emissions Report.  It has been modified from the original to summarize total emissions of each pollutant type in tons for the year 2019.

Name:  Environmental Justice Areas
Source:  PADEP, via PASDA
Date:  2015
Notes:  Environmental Justice (EJ) areas are Census Tracts where over 20 percent of the population is in poverty, or over 30 percent of the population is non-white.  The program is designed to monitor whether there is a fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens.  In Pennsylvania, EJ areas tend to be clustered in urbanized areas, particularly near Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.  

Name:  Counties
Source:   US Census Bureau, FracTracker Alliance
Date Range:  2011
Notes:  This file was created by dissolving the Municipalities layer (below) to the county level.  This method allows for greater detail than selecting the Pennsylvania counties from a national file. 

Name:  Municipalities
Source:  US Census Bureau
Date Published:  2011
Notes:  Viewer must be zoomed into scales of 1:1,500,000 (several counties) or larger to access.
 
Name:  Watersheds – Large
Source:   USDA/USGS
Date Published:  2008
Notes:  Clipped to outline of Pennsylvania.
 
Name:  Watersheds – Small
Source:   USDA/USGS
Date Published:  2008
Notes:  Clipped to outline of Pennsylvania.  Viewer must be zoomed into scales of 1:1,500,000 (several counties) or larger to access.

Due to the large file sizes, this map also contains generalized layers for five oil and gas related datasets:  pits, compressor stations, violations, drilled wells, and permits.  They show the location of their respective content when the map is zoomed out past 1:500,000, but do not include specific well or facility data.  To access these data, zoom in to 1:500,000 (about the size of a county) or beyond, at which point the generalized layers will disappear, and the data for the specific facility or event will become available in popup boxes by clicking on the map icons.