The number of wells drilled and the amount of gas extracted in the Marcellus Shale natural gas field in Pennsylvania has skyrocketed and is expected to steadily grow through 2020, according to a new industry report by the Marcellus Shale Coalition released Wednesday.

As reported by Business Week, the industry group study shows that between 2009 and 2010, gas production quadrupled and the number of wells in use increased 77 percent. This year”s production is expected to be more than 2.5 times 2010.

Researchers found that natural gas production increased from 300 million cubic feet per day to 1.3 billion from 2009 to last year. The number of wells in use jumped from 595 in 2009 to 1,055 during that time, reports Business Week.

Total Marcellus spending is projected to rise to $12.7 billion this year from $3.2 billion in 2008, according to the report. Employment in the industry has also increased from about 60,000 jobs in 2009 to nearly 140,000 last year. The industry projects it will have more than 156,000 employees in 2011.

One figure that is expected to fall this year is the amount of money that companies contribute in lease and royalty payments. That figure is expected to drop from about $1.85 billion in 2010 to about $1.5 billion this year, and then rise again in 2012.?
According to Business Week, the report suggests that the Marcellus could become the largest producing gas field in the U.S. by 2020, supporting perhaps 250,000 jobs and could supply a quarter of the nation”s natural gas if those projections come to fruition.

Business Week reports the Marcellus Shale Coalition paid Penn State researchers $100,000 to conduct the study and report their findings.

To read the full Business Week article on this story, click here.