Stone Energy is an active operator in the Marcellus Shale, a Devonian-age black shale formation that was deposited throughout the Appalachian Basin from southern New York throughout central and western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and into eastern Ohio and Kentucky (map 1). Although the Marcellus Shale outcrops at the surface in certain areas, the depth of the most productive Marcellus Shale reservoirs ranges from about 5200 feet below the earth’s surface down to about 8000 feet below the earth’s surface. A core area of the Marcellus Shale having sufficient thickness and pressure to contain significant concentrations of natural gas covers approximately 20 million acres.
The Marcellus Shale has been a known source rock for natural gas for many years, but it was not until recent advancements in horizontal drilling has the play become economically viable as a reservoir rock. Using horizontal drilling and slickwater hydraulic fracturing techniques, the Marcellus Shale has now become one of the largest natural gas fields in the world. Current industry practices take great care to ensure protection of fresh water aquifers through the use of multiple protective strings of steel casing that are cemented back to the surface between the outside of the casing and the walls of the rock penetrated by the well. In an effort to achieve operational efficiency and minimize areas of surface disturbance, Stone Energy drills six or more horizontal wells from a single drilling pad, thereby reducing the number of pad sites, access roads and pipelines required to develop these natural resources.
Gas-in-Place estimates vary widely, but the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates the United States to possess more than 2,500 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas resources, of which 33 percent is held in various shale formations. About 400 trillion cubic feet of this total is estimated to come from the Marcellus Shale. Natural gas from shales has grown to over 20 percent of U.S. gas production from virtually nothing in just the last ten years and is predicted to be 50 percent of U.S. gas production within the next twenty years. At current U.S. consumption rates of 27 TCF per year, the Marcellus Shale represents a resource that can contribute greatly to meeting the country’s energy needs for many years to come.
Developing these natural gas resources will enhance the country’s energy security, strengthen local and state economies and fuel job growth. In 2010, the development of the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania alone generated $1.1 billion in state and local tax revenues and supported nearly 140,000 jobs. The predicted growth of this natural resource likely means we also can expect to see similar economic benefits over the coming years in each of the states in which such shale development will take place. Other shale formations are also becoming the target of exploration and development in the Appalachian region, including the deeper Utica Shale formation.
As of January 2012, Stone Energy owns approximately 90,000 acres of Marcellus Shale leasehold rights in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and is actively looking to expand its operations in this play. Stone’s headquarters for its Appalachian operations are located in Morgantown, West Virginia with a field office located in New Martinsville, West Virginia. We currently employ approximately 30 full-time employees and over 200 additional consultants or contractors to perform our construction, drilling, completions and production operations. The vast majority of these workers are from Appalachia, many of whom have moved back to the area after having gained industry experience in other parts of the country.
For more information related to the Marcellus Shale or Hydraulic Fracturing, please review the following links:
American Petroleum Institute
American Natural Gas Association
The Marcellus Shale Coalition
Just Beneath the Surface
Pennsyvania Independent Oil & Gas Association
Stone Energy Corporation does not endorse or confirm the accuracy of the information contained in third-party websites and is providing links to the above websites for informational purposes only.