Good question. Truth be told, the first natural gas well in North America was actually a shale well in Fredonia, NY developed back in 1821 – 38 years before “Colonel” Edwin L. Drake Drake drilled his famous oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859. But we’re guessing that your question is more than likely geared towards the shale gas development of today.
While the first horizontal well was hydraulically fractured in 1947, commercial development of shale gas began in 1991 by Mitchell Energy in the Barrett Shale formation in north Texas.
As for the first Marcellus Shale natural gas well, that was drilled in 2004 by MSC member company Range Resources in Washington County, Pa.