Such areas over both the Marcellus and Utica have been described by the gasindustry as a “double play” – which of course is a baseball term for a defensiveplay in which two runners are thrown out. Not as a “double” – meaning two baseson one hit. Calling it a “double play” – two outs - proved to be portentous forGastem USA who attempted test wells in Otsego County – striking out in threeattempts.
More Hot Air Than Gas In New York
The Marcellus and Utica are generally shown in the press as monolithicformations – implying that if you drill a well in the area shown, you will hit gasand the gas will be productive. This is a fairly common and always misleadingmisrepresentation of horizontally fracked oil and gas fields in general.
TheMarcellus is simply the latest shale gas field to be touted as the Saudi Arabia of Gas.
In fact, the productivity of all shale gas fields is much more problematic – being afunction of the Total Organic Carbon (TOC) of the shale, its depth, and itsthickness, as illustrated by an isopach map. In short, the “fairway” is almostcertainly not as large as the area generally shown - most of the area may in fact bein the “rough” where neither the Marcellus nor Utica is commercially viable. A closer examination of the “fairway” would indicate that the Marcellus is unlikely to be productive much further north than Tioga or Broome counties on thePennsylvania border. But the Utica is iffy that far south, since the heat at itsconsiderable depth may have cooked off much of whatever gas it once contained.The Marcellus shale is comprised primarily of the Union Springs formation or“sequence” and the Oatka Creek formation. The Union Springs formation ishigher in TOC (carbon content), generally described as “black shale”. The Oatkais considered a “gray shale” with lower carbon content. The Union Springs isgenerally the target in NE Pa., where it is thickest near the town of Dimock. Asshown in Figure 2, it does not appear to extend very far into New York. Thehorizontal line in the middle of the map is the NY/Pa. state border. In most of Chenango County, it is less than 50 feet thick, and in Otsego County, it effectively disappears south of Cooperstown.