General Information on the Marcellus Shales and Gas Production

Natural gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale are a major player in America's search for new resources. According to a 4 November 2008 story in the Charleston Gazette, Penn State University geoscientist Terry Engelder says that he now estimates 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered over the next few decades from the 31-million-acre core area of the Marcellus region, which includes southern New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and eastern Ohio, meaning it could meet the entire nation’s natural gas needs for at least 14 years. Geologists have long known about the existence of the Marcellus shale, but exploration there accelerated only recently when the price of natural gas rose high enough to make it economically feasible to use the advanced drilling techniques necessary to produce gas from the hard rock thousands of feet underground. Production on the Marcellus gas field, or “play,” is considered to be in the early stages, but the sheer size of it is drawing heavy interest from the exploration industry.

Congressional Research Service and US-DOE reports on Marcellus Shale Gas Development

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) is a separate department within the Library of Congress established to serve the legislative needs of the Congress. The services provided today by CRS are a direct result of congressional directives and guidance.

On 14 October 2008 the CRS released a report titled "Marcellus Shale Gas Development: Royalty Rates, Surface Owner Protection, and Water Issues" for the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The information relates to three topics:

  1. Royalty rates, rents, and signing bonuses that are paid to state and private landowners for shale gas leases;
  2. State regulatory programs and surface-owner rights specific to shale gas;
  3. Federal and state laws and regulations that protect water quality and quantity (and potential "loopholes") specific to shale gas development.

Congress requested information for all three topics above for the states of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York The research revealed only a brief mention of shale gas in the statutes or regulations of Pennsylvania, New York or West Virginia. Specifically, the New York code establishes certain spacing requirements for shale gas wells.

In April 2009 the US Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy released Modern Shale Gas: Development in the United States - A Primer This is a 116 page 5.2Meg .PDF file.

Several sites on the Marcellus Shale are run by the scientific community:

The article Marcellus Shale - Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Play at gives a good summary of the potential of this reserve.

The West Virginia Geological Survey has on-line information on the gas shales. On the WVGES website you will find a variety of information about Gas Shales at Details on the Marcellus Shale are at Geology of the Marcellus Shale

Information on the "frac" process can be found at Hydraulic Fracturing Considerations for Natural Gas Wells of the Marcellus Formation

Chesapeake Energy is the biggest gas producer in the US. A Chesapeake Energy corporation website has .PDF files of presentations at their 2008 Investor and Analyst Meeting held 14 October 2008

2008 Investor and Analyst Meeting - Session 2 contains a detailed overview of Chesapeake Energy's Marcellus Shale operations by Hank DeWitt, VP Geosciences – Eastern Division on Pages 75 to 94.

2008 Investor and Analyst Meeting - Session 1 contains a lot of background information on Chesapeake Energy, as does a later report, December 2008 Investor Presentation.

The West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization offers information on oil and gas leases, the Marcellus Shale, and many other land owner references at

A second property owners site is the Natural Gas Lease Forum For Landowners - Their stated goal is to make it easier for landowners considering natural gas leasing to network together and acquire relevant information about the benefits and pitfalls of leasing land for natural gas and oil. , is focussed on the needs of owners of gas and oil rights.

The official entry point for Penn State Cooperative Extension's educational and research materials about Marcellus shale, natural gas, and how it may affect the Commonwealth is at

As is usual when there is public controversy about a highly technical problem, factual errors have crept into some of the information being published. Zane Shuck, a retired engineer, and former DOE researcher, has offered some comments on Public Misinformation about Marcellus Shale

Washington, PA Observer-Reporter's website has a video about shale frac water at Click on "See a video."