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Investigating Energy Alternatives: The Marcellus Shale

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nadia milani

on 21 October 2015

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Transcript of Investigating Energy Alternatives: The Marcellus Shale

Map of the Marcellus Shale
How Will Natural Gas Be Harnessed?

When heavy equipment travels over farmland, soil compaction occurs. This can have an effect on plant production. It also reduces productivity for decades. To avoid compaction, companies can move the topsoil and stock pile it to one side on the site. Stone is then added to the subsurface to stabilize it before heavy equipment is moved across the land. Once the well is completed, the topsoil is returned and crops can be grown.

Forestlands are also be affected by Marcellus drilling. To drill, a large number of trees may need to be cut down to build access roads. Shrubs and flowers may also need taken down for roadway access.

Pros and Cons
Impact on the Environment
Marcellus gas wells can be drilled using 21st century vertical or horizontal innovations. Vertical wells are sometimes first drilled in an area to obtain information for planning the drilling of cheaper and technically demanding horizontal wells. Marcellus Shale natural gas wells in Pennsylvania are drilled horizontally because it offers access to a larger amount of natural gas, while not disturning the surface so much.

Overview of the Marcellus Shale
Marcellus Shale is a unit of marine sedimentary rock found in eastern North America. It extends throughout most of the Appalachian Basin.The shale contains largely untapped natural gas reserves. Why is it so important, you say? Well, in 2008, Professors Terry Englander and Gary Lash estimated that the Marcellus might contain more than 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to supply the entire United States with natural gas for two years!
Issue Analysis
Investigating Energy Alternatives: The Marcellus Shale
W. Geography
Unit 3: Environmental Issues
Lesson 7: Investigating Energy Alternatives

By: Nadia Milani
October 20, 2015

By early 2015, the Marcellus Shale was yielding about 14.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day
(click next to zoom in)
The drilling process focuses first on reaching and protecting water-bearing zones beneath the ground. Drilling is completed using a small amount of lubricating agents, then the entire length of the well, is cased and cemented tightly to form a barrier between the wellbore and the earth. As the drill continues to push deeper into the earth, a series of long drilling pipes follow it to establish the well. While drilling through the water barrier there may be "short-term cloudiness or turbidity and diminishing of flow".

After drilling vertically to the depth that reaches slightly above the Marcellus Shale formation, the drill bit can then turn to push its way horizontally into the Marcellus Shale. This allows for the extraction of larger quantities of natural gas from a single wellhead. Marcellus Shale wells generally take between 15 and 30 days to drill.
How Will Natural Gas Be Harnessed? (continued)
"Drilling." Marcellus Shale Coalition. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <http://marcelluscoalition.org/marcellus-shale/production-processes/drilling/>.
(Yes I do realize that there aren't computers or internet in the middle of nowhere in the sky... on a bird... but imagination!)
"Marcellus Shale - Appalachian Basin Natural Gas Play." Marcellus Shale: Results Continue to Amaze Geologists. 3 Apr. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <http://geology.com/articles/marcellus-shale.shtml>.
Carrington, Damian. "Fossil Fuel Industry Must ‘Implode’ to Avoid Climate Disaster." Damascus Citizens for Sustainability. The Guardian, 20 July 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <http://www.damascuscitizensforsustainability.org/2015/07/fossil-fuel-industry-must-implode-to-avoid-climate-disaster/>
"Marcellus Formation." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Oct. 2015. Web. 20 Oct. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcellus_Formation#Engineering_issues>.

Shale Impact are impacted when natural gas is extracted from the Marcellus Shale. The transportation of heavy equipment impacts roadways. Horizontal wells can reduce the number of access roads, well pads, pipelines, and production facilities needed. Landowners also have the right to protection from “unreasonable encroachment or damage.”


Because natural gas is the cleanest of all fossil fuels, its air quality benefits are often praised. However, natural gas production does not exist without consequences. Its extraction from the Marcellus shale impacts air quality and releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Potential sources of air pollution varies on the phase of the drilling stage. In the early phases, the air can be polluted by drilling rigs and fracking engines that are fueled by diesel or gasoline. Air pollution also comes from the truckloads of water carried to the drilling site and the water being hauled away. Once the drilling stage is completed, production begins – which includes compressor engines and condensate tanks. Unintended leaks can also occur from drilling equipment that is worn, rusty, corroded, or not properly installed.

Air Quality

The water that is used for drilling can come from various places such as rivers and lakes. This water, used in drilling, is contaminated and is hauled away to be treated. It cannot be returned to its source.

Another major concern is water contamination. Drilling through aquifers can contaminate water supplies. To avoid contaminating drinking water aquifers, drillers use cement casings to surround the drilling pipe. The fluid contains chemicals used by the company to facilitate gas recovery from the shale.

Environmental Impactstudies show that land, water, and air are affected by the Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction process. There are several levels of impact on vital resources and these impacts can affect decision making of companies, governments, and individuals.
In areas where energy development occurs, towns usually experience an increase in economic activity.
Some owners of marginally profitable farms have been able to make ends meet and keep their land after selling their gas drilling rights.

natural gas is a "clean energy source, when it's burned it emits half the amount of CO2 compared to coal
cuts down on small particles such as sulfur and nitrogen oxides emitted into the atmosphere when coal is burned, health problems like asthma can be greatly reduced
may reduce the cost of energy. This cheaper source of energy could lower your family's monthly home heating and electric bills.
Runoff and erosion at drilling sites may increase sediment and nutrient loads in streams and rivers. This, in turn, can affect habitat quality for plants and animals that live downstream.
Biodiversity may be lost if aquatic plants and animals cannot tolerate changing water conditions.
During the drilling process, wells for drinking water may become polluted with a variety of contaminants, such as methane gas. Gas wells require miles of roads and pipelines to move the natural gas from the drilling site to the market. Construction of these transportation corridors can break up the natural landscape and impact wildlife habitat.
When the wells stop producing, economic activity will gradually decline over time. Jobs will likely be lost and retailers that relied on local dollars may lose much of their business profits.
Drilling operations may take away hiking, hunting, and other recreational activities in the forests and rolling foothills of the Appalachian region. Because they are drilling, less land will be available for having fun.
Honestly, I think they should slowly ease off using nonrenewable sources. In a way, like the world is slowly easing off their drugs. It cannot all be done at once and it does take time, but eventually the world will be rid of the harmful ways we humans utilize it. I mean, yes habitats, water, and land are being contaminated/destroyed for this, but it's a start. Using a natural gas in my opinion, is better than something like coal, at least on our air, since it emits only half the amount of Carbon Dioxide that coal emit.

Even though it's a natural gas, it still harms the air, water, and land. The process of fracking causes serious damage.

My suggestion is that next they use a renewable resource. Yes, it may be a bit more expensive at first but after a while, I dont think that will be the problem for long. Solar power, hydroelectric power, and wind turbines will help a lot with our environment, and we should continue to develop them further.
(click next to view land, water, and air quality)
It will be harnessed through fracking.
"Fracking: The Process | Clean Water Action." Fracking: The Process | Clean Water Action. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.
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