Marcellus Natural Gas Production Expanded in 2012

From Bloomberg Businessweek

By Kevin Begos

This year was one of new records and new questions for the boom in Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling.

Previous doubts about the size of the vast resource were mostly put to rest, as data showed that the Marcellus became the most productive natural gas field in the nation, even though well drilling slowed substantially.

According to the federal energy reports Marcellus wells in Pennsylvania and West Virginia now produce 7 billion cubic feet of gas per day. That’s about 25 percent of all shale gas production nationwide, and nearly double the Marcellus production of the previous year.

The Marcellus could contain “almost half of the current proven natural gas reserves in the U.S,” a report from Standard & Poor’s said, while other experts noted the powerful combination of resource, cost and location is altering natural gas prices and market trends across the nation. In other words, natural gas that used to come all the way from the Gulf Coast or Canada to feed the power-hungry Northeast is now coming from Marcellus producers.

The Marcellus Shale lies under parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland and New York. The procedure called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has made it possible to tap into deep reserves of oil and gas but the boom in shale gas fracking has raised concerns about pollution. Large volumes of water, along with sand and hazardous chemicals, are injected underground to break rock apart and free the oil and gas.

The industry and many federal and state officials say the practice is safe when done properly, but environmental groups and some scientists say there hasn’t been enough research on these issues.

In response to public concerns, major regulatory changes were made in 2012 at both the state and federal level.

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