Shale gas production in the Appalachia region has been driving an overall increase in U.S. natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Production in the region, which includes the Marcellus and Utica shale plays, has risen 205% to 23.8 billion cubic feet per day in 2017, from 7.8 billion cubic feet per day in 2012.
Production per rig for new wells in the region has increased by 10.8 million cubic feet per day since 2012. Rig productivity has risen because of “efficiency improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing in the region, which include faster drilling, longer laterals, advancements in technology and better targeting of wells,” according to the EIA. “In West Virginia, the average lateral length per well has increased from about 2,500 feet in 2007 to more than 7,000 feet in 2016. Some operators have recorded lateral lengths as long as 15,000 feet in Appalachia and 19,000 feet in the Utica.”
Also, the number of days it takes to complete drilling fell to seven days in 2015, from about 30 days in 2011.
The Marcellus shale includes about 95,000 square miles between New York and Kentucky and Tennessee and produces the most natural gas in the Appalachia region. The Utica Play spans nearly 60,000 square miles in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York and consists of two stacked formations, Utica and Point Pleasant. Drilling in the Marcellus shale stared in 2003 in Pennsylvania, according to the EIA. “In 2010, drilling began in the deeper Utica and Point Pleasant formations in Ohio. As of November, more than 1,800 wells have been drilled in the Utica-Point Pleasant, and more than 11,300 wells have been drilled in the Marcellus.”