The Devonian Marcellus Formation (or Marcellus Shale) lies 300 to 6,000 feet below the Allegheny Plateau Region of North America and covers 54,000 square miles, running through Ohio, West Virginia, across Pennsylvania and into New York’s Southern Tier. The shale itself is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that is formed when quartz and clay minerals or mud are compacted by pressure over an extended period of time. Although geologists have known about the gas in the Marcellus Shale for many years, until now, the shale had been virtually impossible to permeate. Thanks to recent improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, recovering natural gas in the Marcellus Shale has become a realistic prospect.
It is now estimated that upwards of 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas could be recovered from the Marcellus Shale region over the next few decades. However, because most of the gas is trapped in the pore spaces of the shale, efficient recovery of the gas requires the use of horizontal drilling techniques and “hydrofracing”– the use of large quantities of high-pressure water to induce additional fractures in the rock surrounding the well bore. Concern over the environmental impact of these techniques and the large volumes of water required by hydrofracing has resulted in the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (“NYSDEC”) requiring a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“SGEIS”) before issuing permits to drill in the Marcellus Shale formation in New York, as well as regulatory oversight by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission, and a multitude of legislative initiatives in both the New York State Senate and Assembly.
The West Firm has been at the forefront of the Marcellus Shale development in New York since the beginning, ensuring that our clients are well-prepared to take part in the development of this important resource. Services we are providing include:
Meeting with legislators and other government officials and the state and local level to explain the environmental and economic impacts of the Marcellus Shale play in New York;
Participating in the legislative process in 2008 which modified statewide spacing requirements to account for the anticipated development of Marcellus Shale;
Representing clients before the NYSDEC, Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Delaware River Basin Commission; and
Assisting oil and gas clients with leasing issues associated with Marcellus Shale.