We explore the comparative impacts of capital costs, price differentials, and state fiscal policies on economic decision to drill, paying close attention to the decline of shale well production. We use a standard cash flow model for well economics and perform empirical analysis using actual production and completion data for Marcellus wells, cost and tax payments information from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York, and basis differentials in different parts of the play. Wells drilled in similar rock quality areas can have different economic value owing to completion choices and associated costs, state fiscal regimes, and market dynamics as reflected in prices realized by the producers at the wellhead.

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