WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Energy Information Administration said the Marcellus shale gas area in the eastern U.S. states may account for 18 percent of total U.S. gas production.
The EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, said the 13 billion cubic feet per day expected this month from the Marcellus region, spread out over parts of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, represent about 18 percent of total U.S. natural gas production.
The EIA said the region produced less than 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2010. New drilling technologies for shale reserve areas like Marcellus have helped put the United States in a leadership position in terms of oil and natural gas production.
"The rise of Marcellus production in both absolute terms and as a share of total U.S. production is a key development in a rapidly evolving U.S. natural gas market," the agency said in a drilling report published Monday.
Last month, the Marcellus Shale Coalition and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association said they were collaborating on a study of naturally occurring radioactive material associated with hydraulic fracturing, a drilling practice known also as fracking.
Energy companies use water laced with trace amounts of potentially harmful chemicals to dislodge oil and natural gas trapped in shale formations. Some of the water associated with fracking may be contaminated by naturally occurring radioactive material.