By A.R. Griffin

First released in 1971. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.

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Accessed on June 7, 2014. Background and History One of the most commonly mentioned oil and gas plays today is the Marcellus play that lies beneath about 34 million acres of land in the mostly northeastern United States within the states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and, to a small extent, Maryland, Alabama, and Georgia, as well as a portion of Lake Erie. ) The Marcellus play is believed to contain 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, of which about 10 percent, or 50 trillion cubic feet, is thought to be economically recoverable (Engelder and Lash 2014).

Note that these numbers are four to five times the estimates for the Marcellus shale. Terminology Petroleum experts and companies usually like to describe the amount of oil and/or gas that can be recovered from a well, field, or play. They use terms such as technically recoverable, discovered unrecoverable, and risked to describe resources. Such terms reflect one basic fact about oil and gas reserves: It is often difficult not only to know how much of the product is present in a resource, but also how much of that product can actually be extracted from the Earth.

When the two are separate from each other, the gas is said to be associated natural gas. Oil and natural gas reserves do not occur uniformly across the planet’s surface. They are present more abundantly—often much more abundantly—in some places than in others. Most people know, for example, that the Middle East contains particularly rich oil and gas reserves, as do certain parts of the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, and offshore regions such as the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Any region that has extensive oil and/or gas reserves spread over an extended area is called an oil field.

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