Unlike its fossil fuel counterparts, oil and coal, natural gas drilling is done largely by independent operators. Also unique amongst its counterparts, the fuel burns the most cleanly and produces the least amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants and toxics, like mercury.
"The shale gas was previously considered unreachable, but advances in drilling techniques have changed that assessment. One area getting new attention is the Marcellus basin, a 400-million-year-old shale formation stretching from New York to West Virginia. That basin alone is believed to hold as much as 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the equivalent of about 80 billion barrels of oil.
Horizontal drilling and water fracturing are not new techniques in the oil and gas business, but only in recent years have producers used the procedures in combination to produce shale gas, and the results have been dramatic."
"It's the biggest thing I've ever even heard of," says Ray Walker, vice president of Range Resources, a gas exploration and production company. "It's huge. The ability to produce these shale reservoirs is going to revolutionize this industry all over the world."
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