Shell buys stake in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale

    This week, Royal Dutch Shell paid $4.7 billion to buy land that holds natural gas deposits in the northeast and Texas.

    While the oil industry is under scrutiny for the recent Gulf oil spill, big oil companies are snatching up drilling rights to natural gas in Pennsylvania. This week, Royal Dutch Shell paid $4.7 billion to buy land that holds natural gas deposits in the northeast and Texas.

    Shell has acquired more than a million acres of land. Much of that investment includes parts of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale deposits.

    The price of natural gas is still low.  But industry observers expect it to rise, making the Pennsylvania gas deposits profitable for big oil.

    The Shell purchase is the latest in a series of oil company acquisitions of natural gas plays.

    Last December, Exxon paid $31 billion for access to shale deposits in the state.

    Drilling in the Marcellus Shale has only recently made sense with cost-effective technology.

    The shale formation is hailed as a way to help reduce the country’s dependence on foreign oil. But environmentalists worry about how the drilling process could pollute the water supply.

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