MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — What’s below the Marcellus Shale?  Some say it’s another layer of resources that could boost West Virginia’s economy.

West Virginia University has led a study on the Utica Shale play which spans West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio and New York.

“We see the potential for it is still vast much like the Marcellus.  We expect that it could be a resource that lasts another 2 decades,” explained Brian Anderson, director of WVU’s Energy Institute.

The Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium, a program of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at WVU, gathered information on Utica in a 2-year geological study that was presented at an energy industry workshop last week in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

Marcellus has moved from producing none of the gas the United States uses to producing a quarter of gas used domestically.  Utica could have the same impact.

“We can anticipate that we will continue to supply a major fraction of the natural gas for the United States for years to come,” Anderson said.

The space between the Marcellus and the deeper Utica – ranges from 4,000 feet in Ohio to greater than 6,500 feet in West Virginia. The drilling depth of the Utica ranges from less than 4,000 feet in Ohio to more than 12,000 feet in West Virginia, which is more than two miles below the surface.

“What we really need to be doing is thinking about how we can use these resources and create jobs in the state and get corporations from around the world to move here because we have some of the lowest energy costs in the country or the world for that matter,” Anderson added.

A partnership of 15 industry members, four state geological surveys, two universities, one consulting company, and a national lab allows continued study of Marcellus and Utica plays.

Students are among those identifying next generation technology to shrink the impact land owners see on the surface of drill sites.

“So, there’s a whole generation of students that are coming through WVU and engineering, geology, public health and law and policy that will get access to data that really are not readily available,” observed Anderson.

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