Activity in the Marcellus shale is increasing, according to new information released the by U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The geographical formation covers a region that includes parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
Per the EIA (an analytical division of the Energy Department), production in the area is expected to increase to 13 billion cubic feet per day this month, a figure that would account for 18 percent of the total gas produced in the country. By comparison, three years ago, the shale offered just 2 billion cubic feet per day, or less than a sixth of the current rate.
The large jump is attributable to improvements in drilling and hydraulic lift technology, which have made oil and gas wells exponentially more efficient, as well as opened up previously untenable lands for exploration. This increase in volume has made the United States a much stronger player on the global energy scene.
"The rise of Marcellus production in both absolute terms and as a share of total U.S. production is a key development in a rapidly evolving U.S. natural gas market," the agency said in a drilling report published Monday.
The particular technique that has caused this boom is known as hydraulic fracturing, and last month it was announced as the subject of a study by the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association. The process allows companies to dislodge trapped oil and natural gas from shale formations and produce it using a high pressure water pump. As the technology becomes more commonplace and improves, energy production in the region should continue to flourish.