The Marcellus Shale formation is the largest source of natural gas that has been discovered in the United States. This geological formation, or ‘play,’ is located in the Appalachian Basin of the United States, extending throughout sections of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia. Rising oil prices and new technology are making the Marcellus Shale a hot prospect for many drilling companies, translating into thousands of jobs for those who would like to work in the natural gas industry.
Although the Marcellus Shale has been known about for many years, it was not until about 15 years ago that technology was developed to allow for the faster and more efficient extraction of natural gas from shale. This technology is called horizontal drilling, and involves drilling a hole horizontally across the shale instead of vertically, allowing the natural gas to be extracted through hydraulic fracturing. This technique is much more productive than vertical drilling in a formation like Marcellus, where the shale can be 900 feet thick in places.