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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • WC resides above world’s largest gas reserve

  • A massive energy reserve that resides below Wayne County and throughout the Appalachian Basin could supply U.S. natural gas needs for at least 20 years, newly released estimates show.


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  • A massive energy reserve that resides below Wayne County and throughout the Appalachian Basin could supply U.S. natural gas needs for at least 20 years, newly released estimates show.
    Penn State geologist Terry Engelder recently reported in an industry oil and gas magazine that the Marcellus Shale could yield 489 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, a much higher estimate than previously calculated. For comparison, the U.S. uses an estimated 22 - 24 trillion cubic feet of natural gas annually.
    “It’s fair to say right now in the gas shales that are being produced, it is the largest” in the world, said Engelder in a phone interview with The Wayne Independent on Monday. Other undeveloped reserves in Russia, for example, may contain a larger or comparable volume once production hits full swing there, he said.
    But for now the Marcellus Shale - a vast rock formation stretching beneath New York, West Virginia and the Commonwealth - is the largest unconventional natural gas reserve by volume in the world.
    “It will become a super-giant gas field” once production increases, wrote the professor in the August issue of Fort Worth Basin Oil & Gas Magazine. The entire surface of Wayne County is more than a mile above the energy commodity, yet production of it here has remained practically nil thus far.
    Providing a sign of some investment movement, global-energy giant Hess Corporation recently leased a sizable swath - more than 62,000 acres - of county, private property for exploration and possible development. (see related article online). Other companies have also secured large leaseholds here.
    And Northeastern Pennsylvania is considered to be a “sweet spot” of the Marcellus Shale reserve, said Engelder. Extensive drilling has occurred in the region including in Susquehanna and Bradford counties.
    “There may be other areas that prove equally productive,” he added.
    Engelder based his latest estimates on actual production data from natural gas wells in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. His previous estimate of 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas was ascertained by using only geologic indicators such as the shale’s thickness and extent, among other variables.
    Now that companies are gearing up development targeting the Marcellus Shale, more production data is trickling out, giving geologists and other experts who track the industry a firmer record of how much volume of natural gas the shale has packed away.

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