In 2005, a drilling company confirmed that a well drilled in 2003 in Washington County, Pennsylvania used a relatively new drilling technique — hydrofracturing (or "hydraulic fracturing," or simply "fracking") — to cost-effectively produce commercially significant quantities of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation.
Although the Marcellus Shale formation is the current hot spot, natural gas is also trapped in a number of other deep shale formations that occur under Pennsylvania, including the Utica and Trenton/Black River shales. The horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing techniques used to extract gas from Marcellus Shale might make it economical for drillers to extract gas from these formations too. This could potentially bring large-scale gas production to most parts of the Commonwealth, with the exception of Philadelphia and its surrounding counties.
At least 350,000 oil and gas wells have been drilled in Pennsylvania since 1859 and at least 60,000 are currently operational, but Pennsylvania hasn't been considered a primary focus of the oil and gas industry for a long time. Recent successes drilling in the Marcellus Shale has drastically changed that situation.
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