Natural Gas Operations

Our natural gas operations are centered in the Butler District of Wayne County, West Virginia, which consists of 115 natural gas wells and 3 producing oil wells. Our wells are drilled to 2100-5100 feet in total depth and produce from shale formations.

The company maintains approximately 12,000 acres of mineral rights under leasehold and owns 180 acres of mineral rights. Our wells are drilled from 2100-5100 feet in total depth and show production from both the Devonian and Marcellus shale formations.

The Devonian Shale

Wayne County, WV

Devonian shales are formed from the mud of shallow seas that existed about 350 million years ago (during the Devonian period of the Paleozoic era). Shale is a very fine-grained sedimentary rock, which is easily breakable into thin, parallel layers. It is a very soft rock, but does not disintegrate when it becomes wet. These shales can contain natural gas, usually when two thick, black shale deposits 'sandwich' a thinner area of shale. Because of some of the properties of these shales, the extraction of natural gas from shale formations is more difficult (and thus expensive!) than extraction of conventional natural gas. Most of the natural gas containing Devonian shale in the U.S. is located around the Appalachian Basin. Although estimates of the amount of natural gas contained in these shales are high, it is expected that only about 10 percent of the gas is recoverable. However, their potential as a natural gas supply is still very promising, given an adequate technological and economic environment. The EIA estimates that there are 55.42 Tcf of technically recoverable shale gas in the United States, representing just under 5 percent of total recoverable resources.

The Marcellus Shale

The Marcellus Shale, also referred to as the Marcellus Formation, is a Middle Devonian-age black, low density, carbonaceous (organic rich) shale that occurs in the subsurface beneath much of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. Small areas of Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia are also underlain by the Marcellus Shale.

Rock units are not homogeneous. The gas in the Marcellus Shale is a result of its contained organic content. Logic therefore suggests that the more organic material there is contained in the rock the greater its ability to yield gas. John Harper of the Pennsylvania Geological Survey suggests that the areas with the greatest production potential might be where the net thickness of organic-rich shale within the Marcellus Formation is greatest.

The presence of an enormous volume of potentially recoverable gas in the eastern United States has a great economic significance. This will be some of the closest natural gas to the high population areas of New Jersey, New York and New England. This transportation advantage will give Marcellus gas a distinct advantage in the marketplace.