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Website mines Marcellus data

| Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

WILKES-BARRE — Marcellus shale exploration produces gas, money, controversy and happy statisticians.

The thicket of data tracking Pennsylvania's drilling surge is compiled and stored by different federal and state agencies in various places online and on paper. A Susquehanna County-based website aims to merge it and present it in a meaningful way.

Carl Hagstrom founded MarcellusGas.Org in mid-2010 after conducting his own frustrating search for relevant information about the gas extraction boom around his Jessup Township home and business. Pieces of data were available across “two dozen” places online, he found, but it was “really, really tedious” to find and required a fairly high level of computer skills “and patience.”

“If I could find the information in the manner that I wanted to see it, then I thought there would probably be other people that felt the same way,” Hagstrom said.

The website is designed for people who own property in Pennsylvania or are interested in researching gas-related information about a parcel, like real estate agents or investors. It is ad-free and strives for objectivity.

Hagstrom said he has found that certain information is coveted.

“For every two people that are interested in the non-monetary aspects of the information,” he said, “there are eight that are interested in the money.”

He had experience with web development from his partnership in Woodweb, an industrial woodworking site that has been running for more than a decade.

MarcellusGas.Org is a subscription site that costs $20 annually for full access. A free guest membership offers a limited number of views.

The data is primarily arranged by well site.

The copied documents come from in-person visits Hagstrom or one of the other five people who work on the site make to a regional Department of Environmental Protection office in Williamsport. In early December, the site had nearly 10,000 maps available for download.

MarcellusGas.Org graphs, maps and packages searchable databases in dozens of ways by county, company, township and state. In all, the site pulls together about 2 million separate pieces of data and adds more each week, Hagstrom said.

It's “a real challenge, and what I think we're doing fairly well is presenting that deluge of data in a way that makes sense,” he said.

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