From the Motley Fool blog:

Despite low gas prices over much of last year, the Marcellus shale  was one of the only gassy plays in the country that didn't see a sharp drop-off in drilling activity.

And more recently, the play has generated a great deal of interest, with a handful of transactions occurring over just the past few months.

For instance, Southwestern Energy more than doubled its net acreage in the play, taking advantage of distressed seller Chesapeake Energy's need to divest non-core assets to raise much-needed cash.

Shortly thereafter, Chesapeake offloaded another asset package, this time to Pittsburgh-based EQT. The $113 million transaction was for 99,000 net acres in southwestern Pennsylvania and 10 horizontal Marcellus wells in Washington County, Pa.

Natural gas prices -- though they've risen appreciably over the past couple of months -- are still very low by historical standards. So what's the reason behind the recent flurry of acquisition activity in the play?

The Marcellus' popularity is due largely to its superior economics and its location.

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