If you're willing to take on the risks of investing in the controversial commodity, consider adding these stock picks to your portfolio. By Anne Kates Smith, Executive Editor October 7, 2011 You don’t have to be a Pennsylvania farmer (or a Texas rancher) to get in on the shale boom. Plenty of publicly traded stocks let you do just that. But before investing, be aware of the perils: the political risk created by the controversy over fracking, the chance that production estimates may be overstated (something that the Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking into), and the possibility that natural gas prices will stay at current low levels. SEE ALSO: Cash In on the Natural Gas Shale Boom Still interested? Start with Chesapeake Energy (symbol CHK, $30), the 800-pound gorilla of shale (share prices are as of September 9). Its massive network of land brokers has amassed huge leaseholds in the Marcellus, Haynesville, Barnett, Eagle Ford and Utica formations. The Utica Shale rock layer is promising because, in addition to ordinary natural gas, it has oil and natural gas liquids, a more energy-efficient variant of natural gas that commands a higher price. Ultra Petroleum (UPL, $31) has sizable assets in Wyoming’s Pinedale field and in the Marcellus region. The buzz is that Ultra could be next in a spate of gas companies to be taken over. National Fuel Gas (NFG, $58) is also a big player in the Marcellus region, and additional capacity in its pipeline and gas-storage businesses will boost revenues starting next year. Advertisement Service firms provide the picks and shovels for the gas gold rush. Standard & Poor’s recommends Schlumberger (SLB, $72), whose HiWay fracking system aims to improve production and efficiency, and Halliburton (HAL, $40), whose CleanSuite technology seeks to ameliorate fracking’s environmental impact by, for instance, reducing the need for fresh water. Income seekers can buy master limited partnerships. EV Energy Partners (EVEP, $74) buys and operates oil-and-gas properties. Its shares, which yield 4.1%, do not reflect the potential windfall of its Utica acreage, say bullish analysts at Raymond James & Associates. Williams Partners (WPZ, $53), with a 5.3% yield, focuses on gas transportation and processing.