NEW YORK, April 21 (Reuters) - Chesapeake Energy's (CHK.N) well blowout in the Marcellus Shale formation in Bradford County, Pennsylvania on Wednesday will heighten the controversy over the use of hydraulic fracturing by natural gas drillers.
The accident in northeastern Pennsylvania has stoked an already fierce debate over a production method known as fracking - which releases gas trapped in shale formations by blasting a mix of water, sand and chemicals into the rock.
Chesapeake is the largest permit holder for shale gas concessions in Pennsylvania and among the top producers. Other large players include Anadarko (APC.N), EOG Resources (EOG.N) and Chevron-owned (CVX.N) Atlas Energy Inc. (Figures below)
Proponents say extracting shale gas through fracking will slash U.S. reliance on foreign oil and cut carbon emissions. Naysayers suspect it will pollute water supplies and create other environmental risks, especially if regulation is lax.
President Barack Obama has made increasing natural gas use a cornerstone of his energy policy, in part due to huge reserves unlocked by fracking. Shale gas has risen from negligible in 2004 to 23 percent of U.S. natural gas production now.
The Marcellus Shale formation accounted for 271.5 billion cubic of natural gas during the last six months of 2010 (1.5 bcf per day). Bradford County accounted for more than a fourth of the the state's shale gas output.
In 2010, U.S. shale gas production reached 4.87 Tcf (23 percent of total U.S. natural gas production), compared with 0.39 Tcf in 2000.
To see the a map of the Pennsylvania wells, click here:
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Graphic on shale gas extraction :
The following companies are most active in Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania*: Company Permits Wells ATLAS RESOURCES LLC 352 247 RANGE RESOURCES APPALACHIA LLC 704 190 TALISMAN ENERGY USA INC 589 130 CHESAPEAKE APPALACHIA LLC 1229 87 CABOT OIL & GAS CORP 243 80 EAST RESOURCES MGMT LLC 149 36 CNX GAS CO LLC 162 35 SNYDER BROS INC 54 34 EQT PROD CO 222 33 ENERGY CORP OF AMER 85 32 EAST RESOURCES INC 49 28 PHILLIPS EXPLORATION INC 114 26 ULTRA RESOURCES INC 271 26 ANADARKO E&P CO LP 253 24 EOG RESOURCES INC 277 22 SENECA RESOURCES CORP 175 20 CONSOL GAS CO 94 13 WILLIAMS PRODUCTION APPALACHIA 106 12 EXCO RESOURCES PA INC 167 11 XTO ENERGY INC 84 11 BLX INC 20 10 REX ENERGY OPERATING CORP 84 10 SOUTHWESTERN ENERGY PROD CO 54 8 DOMINION TRANS INC 2 7 PA GEN ENERGY CO LLC 103 6 MDS ENERGY LTD 16 5 CITRUS ENERGY CORP 23 4 JW OPERATING CO 12 4 GUARDIAN EXPLORATION LLC 8 3 NOVUS OPERATING LLC 20 3 SM ENERGY CO 16 3 ANTERO RESOURCES APALACHIAN 10 2 M & M ROYALTY LTD 2 2 RICE DRILLING B LLC 25 2 SAMSON RES CO 11 2 VISTA OPR INC 2 2 WILLIAM MCINTIRE COAL OIL & GAS 5 2 ALPHA SHALE RES LP 6 1 ALTA OPR CO LLC 2 1 DL RESOURCES INC 1 1 FLATIRONS DEVELOPMENT LLC 2 1 GREAT OAK ENERGY INC 2 1 MARATHON OIL CO 8 1 MIEKA LLC 1 1 MTN V OIL & GAS INC 3 1 PDC MOUNTAINEER LLC 2 1 TANGLEWOOD EXPL LLC 8 1 *Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. (Reporting by Edward McAllister, Janet McGurty, Joshua Schneyer, and David Sheppard, Compiled by Janet McGurty; Editing by David Gregorio)