Natural gas drilling is increasing in areas where Marcellus and Utica Shale are prominently located – mostly in southeast Ohio and southwest Pennsylvania. Recently, billions of dollars of investment in new petrochemical facilities were announced by major players in the energy industry.
The Marcellus Shale wells are here to stay and many energy companies are excited about the opportunity to drill more than 50,000 to 100,000 new wells in the area.
Universal Well Services Incorporated is currently drilling and its 200 employees do hydraulic well fracturing for many oil and natural gas exploration firms. Hydraulic fracturing uses high volumes of water mixed with chemicals and sand to fracture underground rock. Natural gas can then be extracted once it has been forced from the shale rock. This can not only be used for energy, but can be converted into other hydrocarbons used in plastics.
“Those gases have quite a bit of value,” said Burt Waite, a geologist with Moody’s Inc., a Meadville-based geology firm.
This natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica is pushing major energy companies to invest – Shell Oil announced a $2 to $3 billion project for an ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, PA. Chesapeake Energy is planning a $900 million natural gas processing plant in eastern Ohio.
Companies like Shell, Chevron and Exxon are looking at the long term development and plans while positioning themselves for their future in the Marcellus and Utica.