Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Applied Natural Resource Economics (MS)

College, School or Department Name

School of Business and Economics


Mark C. Roberts


The U.S. natural gas industry has changed because of the recent ability to produce natural gas from unconventional shale deposits. One of the largest and most important deposits is the Marcellus Shale. Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have allowed for the technical feasibility of production, but concerns exist regarding the economics of shale gas production. These concerns are related to limited production and economic data for shale gas wells, declines in the rates of production, falling natural gas prices, oversupply issues coupled with slow growth in U.S. natural gas demand, and rising production costs. An attempt to determine profitability was done through the economic analysis of an average shale gas well using data that is representative of natural gas production from 2009 to 2011 in the Marcellus Shale. Despite the adverse conditions facing the shale gas industry it is concluded from the results of this analysis that a shale gas well in the Marcellus Shale is profitable based on NPV, IRR and breakeven price calculations.