As BP (NYSE: BP) continues to search for methods to staunch the flow of oil from its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico, the other major producers generally continue to ply their trade in other areas.

Of course, BP and Transocean (NYSE: RIG), the owners of the Deepwater Horizon, which exploded on April 20 and sank two days later, are not alone in their efforts to halt the runaway oil flow. Indeed, they have received aid from American super-majors Chevron (NYSE: CVX) and ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) as the implications of the spill became far-reaching. Thus far, however, none of the procedures that have been attempted to halt the oil's flow have been successful.

In the meantime, the other companies are also going about their business, in many cases far removed from the Gulf. For instance, as last week came to a close, Shell (NYSE: RDS-A), which is also assisting BP, announced that it will plunk down $4.7 billion to acquire East Resources, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based company that is a significant part of the expanding U.S. onshore shale gas movement.

Most of the East Resources' activities occur in the Marcellus Shale, a productive play that runs from the state of New York through Virginia. It has 2,500 oil and gas wells and controls 1.25 million acres of land. In addition to the Marcellus properties, however, Shell will also receive acreage in the Rockies and the Eagle Ford play in South Texas. The sellers are Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., along with Jefferies & Company and principals in East Resources itself, which is privately held.

When all of the assets being acquired are added up, Shell expects to add 1.3 million tight gas acres, which will contribute approximately 2.7 billion barrels of oil and equivalents to the company. Shell, which began acquiring tight gas in the U.S. nearly a decade ago, produced about 140,000 barrels of oil equivalents from its properties last year, and it is targeting 400,000 barrels by the end of the current decade.

So, while bedlam reigns in the Gulf, the major U.S. oil and gas companies continue down the shale gas acquisition trail. Shell's newly announced purchase follows Exxon, which recently became a materially larger factor in domestic gas with its purchase of gas producer XTO Energy (NYSE: XTO). I'm inclined to suggest that Fools keep an eye on Shell, which continues to improve its lot in a number of ways.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't have financial interests in any of the companies named above. He does welcome your questions of comments. The Fool owns shares of XTO Energy. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.