Goldrush: New interest in natural gas.

WHEELING - Reports show the Marcellus Shale natural gas rush sweeping across West Virginia could bring billions of dollars and thousands of new jobs to the state over the next several years.

Now, the state's largest academic institution is looking to help "optimize gas production in the region," as West Virginia University's College of Engineering and Mineral Resources is using data-intensive science in an effort to save time and resources during gas development.

To help fund the research, WVU is receiving a $354,000 grant from the nonprofit Gas Technology Institute.

While lateral bores of 6,000 feet have been the norm, many customers now want to drill horizontal wells stretching up to 10,000 feet, Craighead said. Deaton, the chief executive, said that in some North American basins Baker Hughes' customers are waiting up to 180 days for the company's pressure pumping service, an essential element in forcing oil and gas from shales.