Energy. Environment. Economy.


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The Marcellus Shale, Explained


Marcellus Shale is a sedimentary rock buried thousands of feet beneath the earth’s surface. It stretches from upstate New York south through Pennsylvania to West Virginia and west to parts of Ohio. Named after a town in upstate New York, the rock itself is millions of years old, formed from mud and organic material. The natural gas created over millions of years as a byproduct of decomposition is trapped in tiny spaces and fissures within the rock. The Marcellus Shale is just one of many shale formations across the world. When industry speaks of tapping shale gas, it often refers to it as a “shale play.” The Marcellus is one of the first shale plays to be tapped, after the Barnett Shale formation in Texas.

Latest Posts

Pa. drill rig manufacturer taking the ‘rough’ out of roughnecking

As shale oil and gas production soars in states like Pennsylvania, Texas and North Dakota, the number of drill rigs towering over treetops is on the decline. Operators are becoming more efficient and advances in technology are driving other changes in oil and gas fields. Several hours away from where drillers are boring down into Pennsylvania’s [...]

DCNR releases first Marcellus monitoring report

How is Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling affecting Pennsylvania’s state forests? A new report released Wednesday by the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources offers mixed results. “First and foremost is that shale-gas production on state forest lands is neither benign nor catastrophic,” Dan Devlin, acting deputy secretary for Parks and Forestry, wrote in the [...]

Study: small fraction of Pa. wells contribute large portion of methane emissions

In a new study on methane emissions from natural gas development, researchers found that a significant portion of the emissions they measured came from just a small fraction of Marcellus Shale wells. Those wells were in the drilling phase and had not yet been hydraulically fractured to release natural gas. The study, published Monday in the Proceedings of [...]

Fracking forum will focus on the economic impact of drilling in Pennsylvania

There’s still time to register for a discussion forum –  ”A Frank Conversation about Fracking” - coming up this week on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. in Montgomery County. Co-hosted by StateImpact Pennsylvania partner station WHYY and the Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project in Elkins Park, the conversation will focus on the economic impact of Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom. [...]

DEP says gas drilling air pollution a small fraction of Pa. emissions

A new report from the Department of Environmental Protection found that air pollution from Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry represented a small fraction of the state’s total emissions in 2012, despite including more emissions data from compressor stations than in 2011. Here are the new stats from the DEP: 16,361 tons of nitrogen oxides, a 1.09 [...]

Discussion forum promises ‘fracking without all the fracas’

Love to talk about hydraulic fracturing or just want to learn more? Next month, StateImpact Pennsylvania partner station WHYY is co-hosting a discussion forum with the Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project in Elkins Park, Montgomery County about the controversial extraction process known as “fracking.” The conversation will focus on the economic impact of natural gas development [...]

Old debate over taxing Marcellus Shale getting new life

An old debate over taxing natural gas production in Pennsylvania has been getting new life. A Republican state representative from Bucks County has introduced legislation to create a severance tax on shale gas. Democrats running to unseat Governor Tom Corbett are also calling for a tax. Last week, a report by the state’s Independent Financial [...]

Berks County gas-to-liquids plant gets preliminary approval

Supervisors in South Heidelberg Township, Berks County have given preliminary approval to a plant that would turn natural gas into liquid motor fuel. The gas-to-liquids plant is among the first of several similar projects proposed around the state. The idea is to turn Pennsylvania’s cheap, abundant natural gas into more expensive liquid fuel. The plant would cost between [...]

Marcellus tops major U.S. shale plays in drill rig productivity

On a per-rig basis, Marcellus gas production is surpassing other major shale plays in the United States, according to an analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Rigs are producing more gas because more infrastructure is coming on line, according to EIA economist Mike Ford. “The ability to take gas out of the ground has [...]

Phila. mayor says $1.8B deal to sell city gas works offers Marcellus benefits

Today, Philadelphians don’t get their natural gas from the Marcellus Shale. But under a proposed deal announced Monday to privatize the city’s gas works, Mayor Michael Nutter says that could change. At a press conference, Nutter introduced the city to UIL Holdings Corp., a Connecticut-based energy company that has agreed to buy Philadelphia Gas Works [...]

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