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Largest Natural Gas Shale Plays in the U.S.

shale plays

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There are 5 primary shale plays that produce the majority of the natural gas.

More than 30 States have shale formations that are actively drilled, but none are of the size and scope of the ones mentioned here. You may have heard of some of them, even if you are not involved in the industry. They are mostly located in places typically associated with oil and gas.


This is the grandaddy of them all. The Marcellus formation is located in the Appalachian Basin. The primary gas region extends from West Virginia through Pennsylvania and up into New York.

Gas output: 18 billion cubic feet/day.

shale play


Located in west Texas, including a small part of southwestern New Mexico. This area has long been known for oil and increasingly natural gas as well. It is part of the Mid-Continent Oil Province.

Gas output: 8 billion cubic feet/day.

shale play


The Haynesville play is found in western Louisiana and east Texas. It has become a major player in the natural gas industry since 2008.

Gas output: 6 billion cubic feet/day.

Eagle Ford

An incredible source of capital investment in the oil and gas industry, the Eagle Ford play is a thin formation in the southern tip of Texas. It is a world-class formation for both oil and gas.

Gas output: 6 billion cubic feet/day.

shale play


Most of the Niobrara formation lies within Colorado, with some area spilling into Wyoming and Nebraska. Relatively new, it is primarily an oil play.

Gas output: 4.6 billion cubic feet/day.

shale play

What is a ‘shale play’?

This is an industry term for a region with specific characteristics, defined primarily through the composition of the shale itself, which offers recoverable reserves of gas, and to a lesser extent, oil. A shale formation is comprised of sedimentary rock.

The natural gas boom is significant in the U.S.

Production has been on the rise since around the year 2000 when horizontal drilling and fracking began in earnest. Almost all of the natural gas consumed by the U.S. is also produced here. In December 2016, the EIA found that the U.S. had 200 trillion cubic feet of “proved” gas resources and another 622 trillion cubic feet of “unproved” gas resources.

Posted in Oil & Gas Industry

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