West Virginia University’s study reveals a new estimate on the natural gas in Utica Shale that led to millions in investments. According to the study, Utica “is much larger than original estimates, and its size and potential recoverable resources are comparable to the Marcellus play, the largest shale oil and gas play in the U.S. and the second-largest in the world.”
If true, then the gas that is being drilled in Pennsylvania and West Virginia could extract over 780 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which can be converted to an enormous yield of 2 billion barrels of oil. The U.S. Geological Survey’s estimate three years ago was just 38 trillion cubic feet, which was the basis of WVU’s errata.
“This is a landmark study that demonstrates the vast potential of the Utica as a resource to complement, and go beyond, what the Marcellus has already proven to be,” said Brian Anderson, the director of West Virginia’s Energy Institute.
The Utica Shale Play Book Study was two year’s worth of research that was sponsored by several drillers in the area, including some big players such as Range Resources and Chevron Corporation.
There are several ways that liquefied natural gas can be extracted from Earth, and some engineering firms are already at the forefront of extraction that using a procedure that isn’t too invasive. One method is relying on new separation technologies and injection-mixing devices for desuperheating. Sulzer, a long-time associate of equipment maintenance company Unaoil, is a pioneer of developing pumps for tanker loading and tank farm transfer, which both operate reliably at cryogenic temperatures.
The other method, and the more common one, is called fracking. It involves a well simulation technique in which rocks are fractured using pressurized liquid. Injecting high-pressure liquid into a wellbore creates cracks that helps natural gas flow freely from the Earth. The practice has always been seen as unethical by environmentalists due to the negative effects it causes to the surrounding flora and fauna.
Despite the advances of extracting oil, however, global drilling is declining as the industry is currently experiencing a surplus, leading to all-time low prices of the precious black commodity. Gas production in the Utica area is the only one that was able to increase its production yield from July to August.