What is the Utica Shale?
The Utica Shale is a rock unit located a few thousand feet below the Marcellus Shale. It also has the potential to become an enormous natural gas resource. The Utica Shale is thicker than the Marcellus, it is more geographically extensive and it has already proven its ability to support commercial production.
It is impossible to say at this time how large the Utica Shale resource might be because it has not been thoroughly evaluated and little public information is available about its organic content, the thickness of organic-rich intervals and how it will respond to horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. However, the results of early testing indicate that the Utica Shale will be a very significant resource.
Where is the Utica Shale?
The potential source rock portion of the Utica Shale is extensive. In the United States it underlies portions of Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia. It is also present beneath parts of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and part of Ontario, Canada. This geographic extent of potential Utica Shale source rock is shown on the map labeled as Figure 1 in the right column of this page. If the Utica is commercial throughout this extent it will be geographically larger than any natural gas field known today.
How Deep is the Utica Shale?
Most of the major rock units in the Appalachian Basin are thickest in the east and thin towards the west. The rock units that occur between the Marcellus Shale and the Utica Shale follow this trend. In central Pennsylvania, the Utica can be up to 7000 feet below the Marcellus Shale but that depth difference decreases to the west. In eastern Ohio the Utica can be less than 3000 feet below the Marcellus.