The shale production process
It starts with exploration and, increasingly, ends in new and innovative uses of this dynamic fuel. After natural gas producers obtain lease agreements from landowners for potential drilling, geologic studies are conducted to determine whether the sites have potential to produce natural gas. If exploratory drilling is successful, wells are then drilled using either horizontal or vertical technologies. While protecting water-bearing zones beneath the ground, the drill pushes vertically for several thousand feet, then horizontally into the shale formation to extract larger quantities of natural gas. A strong combination of steel and concrete casing protects the ground and isolates the producing well from any freshwater zones. A highly monitored hydraulic fracturing process—using increasingly recycled water— extracts the gas. Some development areas then have a pipeline to take the gas directly to market. You can look at a cross-section of a typical Marcellus well here.