Shale gas is extremely similar to other forms of earth based hydrocarbons, such as coal, gas and oil. Shale is produced inside of rock due to the compression and eventual transformation of organic material once deposited at the bottom of a water source (typically a lake or ocean). The weight placed onto the organic material causes hydrocarbons to gradually form over time. This does not happen all at once, but instead over tens of thousands to millions of years. While some of the hydrocarbons are able to escape the rock throughout the course of its development, some is eventually turned into shale gas, which is also referred to as shale oil. While this is how shale gas forms, there is even more history about the way it is located and extracted.
Due to the fact that shale gas developed as a result of the animals that die on the bottom of a body of water and, eventually, are covered in rock and other hard material, shale gas is typically found in very specific locations, not to mention extremely deep, under the surface of the earth locations (often times as deep as 3,000 meters, or almost 10,000 feet). When the organic material dies (it can be anything from a plant to a dinosaur), it is often barred by a light layer of sand or dirt. As the region around it starts to change, more and more pressure is placed on the former organic material. It is eventually turned into file-grains and eventually absorbed into the rock. It is trapped inside of the pores of the rock, which is why the gas is known as shale gas.
In order to gain access to this gas, it is necessary to dig deep enough into the rock to locate the layer of organic material that is now in an oil or gas form. Many companies use new and innovative techniques to reach and extract the oil resources. For example, Cunningham Energy an energy provider based in Charleston, West Virginia, uses horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to obtain and extract gas located deep within the layers of rock.
This kind of shale gas is essentially found everywhere in the world, as it is the most common kind of unconventional gas found in the world. In fact, according to the International Energy Agency, or IEA, there is almost 380 trillion cubic meters of the shale gas on the planet, which is around half of the amount of conventional oil. The most common and largest shale gas locations are found where large bodies of water in land have shifted and altered over time. Due to this, shale gas is found in the United States, from the Great Lakes down the Mississippi, throughout northern Russia and China, plus northern Africa and in India.