The Marcellus shale play runs through northern Appalachia, primarily in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and Ohio. It is part of the Devonian black shale and the thickness of the gas-producing rock is as much as 900 feet. The formation runs an estimated 600 miles north to south, and is estimated to hold as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 50 tcf of which is recoverable using current technology. It is one of the richest gas fields in North America.
The proximity to customers in Eastern urban centers is what makes the Marcellus so desirable. Fort Worth-based Range Resources was one of the early players in the Marcellus and still has a huge position in the play. Norway’s Statoil has signed a joint venture with Chesapeake Energy to work together in the Marcellus, and other US and foreign companies also are involved in drilling and infrastructure development.