Northeastern (46th Annual) and North-Central (45th Annual) Joint Meeting (20–22 March 2011)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM


KOSTELNIK, Jaime, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222,

The Pennsylvania Geological Survey disseminates information to the public regarding the Commonwealth’s natural resources; much of this work is facilitated by our geologic mapping efforts. Within the past few years, the Marcellus shale, well known in the Appalachian basin as a gas-bearing horizon for more than 100 years, has become the focus of the Survey’s subsurface geologic mapping work, as this formation is now the subject of extensive shale gas exploration throughout Pennsylvania.

Producing gas from organic-rich shales is not a new concept; it’s the volume of gas that can be extracted from these reservoir rocks using modern hydraulic fracturing techniques that has caught the attention of many. Historically, Pennsylvania shale gas production was limited to the northwest corner of the state, where shallow wells produce small volumes of gas over decades. This all changed in 2005, when Range Resources completed the Renz #1 well in Washington County using stimulation technologies commonly used in other shale gas plays throughout the U.S. Range Resources’ work in southwestern Pennsylvania is truly responsible for initiating the “modern” Marcellus play.

Subsequent Marcellus drilling has proved successful in attracting the attention of major industry players, and has resulted in a flurry of leasing activity across the state. As a result, Pennsylvania has experienced a remarkable amount of public interest and became a target for media coverage seemingly overnight. Even so, promises of huge leasing bonuses and lucrative royalties, along with questions of environmental impact, have left Pennsylvanians searching for reliable information. To this end, the Survey plays an integral part by educating the public and disseminating geologic information related to this unconventional gas reservoir. The Survey is the official repository of well records for the Commonwealth and maintains a database of all geologic information related to oil and gas well drilling. As stewards of these data, the Survey seeks to provide citizens with unbiased scientific information related to our state’s geologic resources. This information provides citizens with a clear understanding of the geology of the Marcellus shale, and facilitates reasonable decision-making regarding the land and natural resources they own.