What Is Marcellus Shale?

January 27th, 2016

Throughout Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and other Northeastern states in the U.S., there has been a lot of hype about Marcellus Shale. However, many do not understand what Marcellus Shale is.

Marcellus Shale, formally known as the Marcellus Formation, is a unit of marine sedimentary rock that was formed millions of years ago under inland seas through much of the Appalachian basin—including through Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia. The formation is where we find natural gas—a leading energy source for Pennsylvania home and business owners. The material is made from compressed mud, animal and plant carcasses, oxygen, and water found 5,000 – 7,000 feet below the earth’s surface.

History of Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania

Drilling in Pennsylvania dates back to the late 1800’s, where Colonel Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in Titusville. Since the first drilling in 1859, at least 350,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled.

Until recently, scientists and geologists did not know how to access the natural gas in the shale’s formation in an ecofriendly way. The U.S. Department of Energy studied the shale in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. In 2003, Washington County, Pennsylvania experimented with a new drilling technique called hydrofracturing—or fracking. In 2005, it was confirmed that the well in fact obtained natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation and was a new cost-effective way to obtain the fossil fuel.

Since then, technology has advanced and has created an economically feasible way to drill for natural gas. It is estimated that the shale holds as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Although only 10 to 20 percent of natural gas is currently reachable, it is estimated that it is enough to meet the counties demand up to seven years.

Marcellus Shale Today

The shale in Pennsylvania has brought millions of dollars and thousands of jobs into the state. Since the project, there have almost 8,000 active wells throughout the state of PA, including in:

  • Washington County
  • Brandford County
  • Susquehannah County
  • Westmoreland County
  • Butler County
  • And others

The active wells are a viable source of natural gas—which is used to heat thousands of homes and businesses throughout the country. Because of its natural substances and affordable costs, many people are making the switch to using natural gas.

If you would like to know more, simply contact UGI EnergyLink. We are a leading natural gas servicer in Pennsylvania and can answer all of your questions regarding switching to natural gas. Give us a call or contact us online.