Marcellus ShaleNatural gas production from one of the United State’s fastest growing plays, the Marcellus Shale, will climb even higher in the face of widespread environmental and safety concerns, predicts industry analysts GlobalData in their new report.

The company’s latest research* says that gross production from the play exploded from 80.2 billion cubic feet equivalent (bcfe) in 2009 to 1,072.3bcfe in 2011, and is set to reach 4,861bcfe in 2015 before finally stabilizing in 2020 at a massive 7,685.1bcfe.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” is a process of pumping water, sand and chemicals underground to break apart rock and release the natural gas. The method has sparked controversy across the world, due to potential risks including ground water contamination and the compromise of air quality.

The Marcellus Shale runs through New York and Pennsylvania, among other states, and while numerous wells have been drilled across the latter, opposition from the public and some political figures in New York led to the initiation of a drilling moratorium in November 2010—a freeze on fracking that currently remains in place.

Drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale mainly takes place in Pennsylvania, and as of March 9, 2012, the total number of drilling permits issued in this area stood at 11,772, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Chesapeake is the number one company in the Pennsylvania section of the shale, producing 193 bcfe last year alone. Talisman Energy USA Inc. came second with 155 bcfe, while Cabot Oil & Gas Corp and Range Resources Appalachia LLC were third and fourth, with 138 bcfe and 115 bcfe, respectively.

For more information on the report Marcellus Shale in the US, 2012 – Gas Shale Market Analysis and Forecasts to 2020*, part of GlobalData’s Oil and Gas Shale Series covering shale plays in North America, click here.

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