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PA Center for The_book_Article-1

PA Center for The_book_Article-1

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Published by: srg50595583 on Mar 30, 2010
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Pennsylvania’s Buried Treasure
In an ever-changing energy dependent world, new fossil fuel sources are becoming increasingly rare. When a new deposit is found, it can have immediate effectson the surrounding economy and United States energy consumption as companies jumpat the bit to attain drilling permits. A recently discovered natural gas source is thePennsylvania Marcellus Shale, which has a large amount of trapped natural gas. ThePennsylvania Marcellus shale is part of the large Marcellus Formation, which extendsfrom Ohio through Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. Although production was started back in the early 2000’s, the majority of reserves, are untappedand could potentially be enough to supply US demand for fourteen years.This is a photograph of the Marcellus and Devonian Shale. The orange lines represent thedepth of the shale.Source:http://ruins.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/marcellus-shale-depth-map.gif  The Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Reserve formation is part of alarge shale field, which extends through Ohio, New York, and West Virginia. The shaleholds a large amount of natural gas, which has led to the movement by many companiesto attain drilling permits.
 This is an illustration representing the depth of natural gas with the PennsylvaniaMarcellus Shale. The blues and reds represent larger amounts of natural gas, while thegreens and yellows represent smaller amounts of natural gas.Source:http://www.swogg.org/images/Map_of_Marcellus_Shale.png The strong interest of energy companies is also due to the fact the shale location isrelatively close to high-demand natural gas markets along the East Coast. There arelimestone layers within the Marcellus Shale, which have trapped natural gas within theformations.The gas is formed from the decomposition of organic materials and the very high pressure and high temperatures that exist this far under ground. Natural gas is literallykept in place in the shale pores by surrounding rock. As of April 2009, the Department of Energy has estimated that the entire Marcellus may contain as much as 262 trillion cubicfeet of Natural Gas which would be enough to supply United States demand for aboutfourteen years. Other estimates have varied. The recovery rate however is relatively lowdue to the fact that the natural gas reserves are located well below the earth’s surface.Historically, drilling for natural gas involved drilling a well vertically into theearth. Since natural gas deposits usually occur in vertical rock fractures, this was highly aguessing-game. In 2005, an energy company called Range Resources employed a type of vertical drilling known as vertical drilling at the Marcellus Shale. This is a relatively newdrilling technique where drilling starts in the vertical, and then continues in thehorizontal. This type of drilling however, does cost a lot more.
Vertical drilling is paired with a technique called hydraulic fracturing, or simply“hydrofracking” in industry slogan. After a well is drilled in the shale, large amounts of water and sand are pumped into the well to force fracture the shale. “Hydrofracking”,forces the natural gas into the newly formed fractures resulting in more accessible naturalgas and a higher recovery rate. This creates an environmental problem however, becausethe contaminated water is pumped back to the surface and has to be stored. There is adebate over how the water should be stored.This is an image illustrating the difference between conventional vertical drilling. Thehorizontal drilling is used to tap the horizontal shale deposits.Source:http://www.dteenergy.com/images/gasDrilling.jpg The Marcellus Shale ranks number one as the fastest growing natural gas production region in the United States. Sixty-percent of this area is within the state of Pennsylvania. Natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale has positive impacts onPennsylvania’s economy. In 2008, natural gas production had a direct impact of $2.3 billion on Pennsylvania’s economy including $240 million in local and state tax revenue,while also creating over 29,000 new jobs. These values will likely increase substantiallyin 2010, according to an economic study performed by the Pennsylvania State Universityfor the Marcellus Shale Committee and the Pennsylvania House Natural Gas Caucus.This study predicts that in 2010 alone, natural gas production in Pennsylvania willgenerate $14 billion for the state’s economy, including $800 million in local and statetaxes, and over 98,000 new jobs.There are environmental skeptics surrounding the Marcellus Shale debate as well.Part of the extraction process involving the infiltration of millions of gallons of water into

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