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Shale Formations & Drilling

Across the U.S., from the West Coast to the Northeast, some 19 geographic basins are recognized sources of shale gas.

united states shale formations the chattanooga shale in east tennessee horizontal drilling process

Although natural gas has been known for years to exist in these formations, the natural gas trapped in it wasn't considered commercially viable to produce because of shale's tendency to be so dense that the trapped natural gas could not be accessed. The introduction of Horizontal Drilling and Multiple Zone Hydraulic Fracturing has allowed for this untapped resource to become commercially viable. Recent studies have shown that there is enough natural gas in the U.S. shale formations to supply our needs for a minimum of 100 years.

Horizontal drilling technology has allowed shale gas, a previously untapped resource, to become commercially viable.

Horizontal drilling in the Southern Appalachian Basin area of East Tennessee is the process of drilling a well from the surface to a subsurface location just above the target Chattanooga Shale formation called the "kickoff point," then deviating the well bore from the vertical plane around a curve to intersect the formation at the "entry point" with a near-horizontal inclination. At this point the wellbore remains in the horizontal plane until the desired length is achieved.

Along this horizontal lateral, multiple-zone hydraulic fracturing literally breaks open the shale to allow natural gas to flow freely to the wellbore. This horizontal approach to accessing the hydrocarbons trapped within the shale formation has proven to be more cost effective than traditional vertical drilling while minimizing the number of wells necessary to monetize a formation.

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