What is Marcellus Shale?
What we call “Marcellus Shale” is a rock formation that stretches through Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and New York, and is often referred to as the Appalachian Basin. The shale contained in this rock has large amounts of natural gas reserves that can be tapped and used to further develop energy systems in the most populated region of the United States – the East Coast. Natural gas that is extracted from Marcellus Shale will be used in the soon-to-be constructed cracker plant near Pittsburgh, PA to create millions of items.
How Is Shale Formed?
Marcellus Shale began as sea sediment that then was built up over millions of years. As each new layer of sediment was deposited, it became compressed and eventually turned into black shale. The natural gas that is being tapped is located in the cracks of the shale, which means that it must be extracted to be used as energy.
How Is the Shale Extracted?
Shale from the Marcellus site is extracted using two newer technologies: deep horizontal drilling, which allows people to reach the shale that is located 5,000 to 9,000 feet below, and hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking.” The technique used for fracking is a multi-step process. First, wells are drilled. Next, millions of gallons of water and chemicals are pumped into the well, which increases the pressure, allowing the shale to break apart. This allows the cracks to widen and the natural gas to flow freely and be pumped out.
What Happens After the Shale Is Extracted?
The natural gas is then transported to be used in energy production and the manufacturing industry. Right now, with the East Coast population standing at 112 million people, Marcellus Shale offers the opportunity for decreased transportation costs with a largely untapped source of energy that can be used both commercially and residentially for many years. The Marcellus Shale wells are believed to be able to produce a natural gas supply for as long as 40 years.