GlobalData’s latest report looks at the outlook to 2023 of one of the largest and highly concentrated natural gas resources in the US – the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.

The two plays are located in the Appalachian Basin, along with other smaller plays, such as Upper Devonian and Lower Huron. The Utica shale lies beneath the Marcellus and is two to three times thicker as well.

US shale gas production

The majority of the drilling and production activity in the Marcellus continues to take place in the northeast and southwest Pennsylvania, especially in Susquehanna and Washington counties, while the hotspot for the Utica play is in eastern Ohio.

Fracking activity in the Marcellus and Utica formations is driven by the large demand for natural gas from the nearby populated areas despite natural gas prices experiencing some volatility during recent years. As in the other unconventional shale plays, operators in the Marcellus and Utica shales continue to drill longer laterals beyond 12,000 feet and some as long as 3 miles.

The general objective remains to increase the productivity of the new producing wells in a higher proportion with respect to the cost increase associated with these more complex wells. The Appalachian has also seen a clear trend for larger scale developments by key operators by increasing the surface of contiguous acreage and allowing for more production by well recovery.

The major natural gas producing counties in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays include Susquehanna, Washington, Bradford, and Greene counties in Pennsylvania and Doddridge county in West Virginia.

Major counties for natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays

Source: Pennsylvania DEP, West Virginia DEP, GlobalData         ©GlobalData

In 2018 EQT Corp., Antero Resources, Cabot Oil & Gas, Southwestern Energy, and Range Resources were the leading producers in the Marcellus shale, whereas, Ascent Resources and Gulfport Energy were the leading producers in the Utica shale play.