Ohio hits Utica shale well milestone

The oil and gas industry in Ohio is making news again, as it has surpassed 1,000 Utica shale wells, including 13 in Washington County.

About 1,025 wells across the state have been drilled. Of that, more than 500 wells are producing. A total of 1,446 wells have been permitted.

Mark Bruce, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) said the first Utica wells were drilled several years ago, and that number has been on the rise.

“The first Utica well was drilled in 2010,” he said. “Now, two-thirds of the way through 2014, there are now more than 1,400 permits. Utica is growing and it’s growing quickly.”

In fact, numbers from ODNR show that for the first quarter of 2014, a total 418 wells reported production of 1.9 million barrels of oil and 67 billion cubic feet of gas.

The Utica shale region covers parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, lakes Erie and Ontario and part of Ontario, Canada.

Bruce said currently there are about 48 rigs up at well sites, which is a little less than a month or so ago when the number was 50.

Chris Zeigler, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute Ohio, said signs regarding Utica are positive across the state.

“The U.S. Energy Information Administration just added Utica to its drilling production report for the first time,” Zeigler said. “That’s pretty significant. The numbers we’re seeing are pretty positive; natural gas from Utica shale has increased.”

In fact, Bruce said that in a year’s time, the natural gas produced by Utica shale formations has skyrocketed.

“In 2013, the state produced more than 171 billion cubic feet of natural gas,” he said. “In 2012, the state only produced 86 million (cubic feet). The state nearly doubled its natural gas production in one year and that’s attributed to Utica shale…It’s not a state record, but it’s very close to (one).”

While most of the Utica play has been in the northeast part of the state, Zeigler said that’s changing.

“Generally, the play has moved,” he said. “It started in northeast Ohio but the sweet spot has moved down to the southeast region of Ohio; that’s where we’re seeing most of the activity.”

He added that jobs have been impacted positively by the shale play.

“(About) 189,000 jobs have been impacted in Ohio; core shale related jobs,” he said. “Those are the people working the rig down to the hospitality industry (that houses workers). It’s across the state.”

Carroll County in the northeast has the most wells in the state: 240 are producing out of a total 363 drilled. Harrison County is the next highest with 70 out of 174 producing.

Bruce said locally, Washington County isn’t as active as others nearby.

“Noble’s pretty active, especially more toward the north,” he said. “There’s more activity in the counties neighboring Washington than actually in Washington.”

Washington County has 13 wells. Of that, six are producing, two have been drilled and five have been permitted. Morgan County has three total wells, two of which have been drilled and one of which is in the process of being drilled. Monroe and Noble counties have the highest around the area: Noble has 110 total wells, 53 of which have been drilled or are in the process of being drilled, 16 permitted and 41 producing; Monroe has a total of 103 wells, 58 of which have been drilled or are being drilled, 24 permitted and 21 producing.

Bruce said the Utica boom isn’t going anywhere in the near future.

“The charts continue to show an upward trend,” said Bruce. “Utica is active and it’s still growing.”