WorldWide Drilling Resource®

39 WorldWide Drilling Resource ® JANUARY 2020 More Natural Gas than Expected Thanks to Directional Drilling Adapted from Information by the United States Geological Survey According to the latest assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Marcellus Shale and Point Pleasant-Utica Shale Formations contain much more natural gas than originally estimated. The area is expected to hold 214 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable contin- uous resources of natural gas, nearly twice as much as previous estimates. “Watching our estimates for the Marcellus rise from 2 trillion, to 84 trillion, to 97 tril- lion, in under 20 years, demonstrates the effects American ingenuity and new technology can have,” said USGS Director Jim Reilly. “Knowing where these resources are located, and how much exists, is crucial to ensuring our nation’s energy independence.” The Marcellus, Point Pleasant, and Utica are extensive formations covering parts of Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Previous calculations were much lower. In 2011, the USGS estimations for the Marcellus Shale were around of 84 trillion cubic feet; while the 2012 numbers for the Utica Shale hovered around 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Since those assessments, significant amounts of natural gas have been produced from both formations, thanks primarily to directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Walter Guidroz, program coordinator for the USGS Energy Resources Program said, “Since our assessments in 2011 and 2012, industry has improved upon their develop- ment techniques for continuous resources like the shale gas in the Appalachian Basin. That technological advancement, plus all of the geological information we’ve gained from the last several years of production, have allowed us to greatly expand our understand- ing of these formations.” So, what does it mean when they say undiscovered, technically recoverable resources ? Undiscovered resources are believed to exist based on geology and other data, but they haven’t been proven to exist by drilling or other means. Technically recoverable resources, are resources which can be produced using today’s standard industry practices and technology. To access the new assessment of the Marcellus Shale, or the Point Pleasant-Utica Shale, visit the USGS website. A drill rig at a Marcellus Shale well site in southwestern Pennsylvania. Photo by Ken Skipper, courtesy of USGS. DIR