Small-scale drilling in Marcellus Shale has occurred for decades. Until fairly recently, it was not economically feasible to extract the natural gas trapped in this region. However, current drilling methods, horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, allow rigs access to the natural gas in the tight shale layer. When appraising a property in the Marcellus Shale region, it’s important that you are familiar with these processes. Knowledge is power. Read on for a brief review of these technologies.
Shale gas is usually extracted by means of a "horizontal well," which is first drilled down vertically to a depth above the target gas-bearing rock formation. Special tools are then used to curve the well so that the hole is drilled horizontally within the gas-bearing rock for several thousand feet. Except for special tools used underground, horizontal drilling is performed using the same equipment and technology as vertical drilling, with the same protocols allegedly in place for aquifer protection, fluid containment, and waste handling.