Production in Ohio's Utica shale rising fast


Ohio energy companies extracted more than twice as much oil and gas from the Utica shale in the third quarter of 2013 as they did in all of 2012, according to new figures issued by the state. Although that might seem like a dramatic increase, the spike in production was not unexpected, considering the increase in active wells, industry experts say. The numbers are part of the first-ever quarterly report on the Utica shale, the result of a new state law that requires companies to file a report each quarter as opposed to once a year. In the quarter that ended in September, 245 wells produced a total of 1.3 million barrels of oil and 33.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Results for the first two quarters of 2013 will be released next year as part of the report for all of 2013. The previous report, which covered all of 2012, showed that 85 wells produced 635,876 barrels of oil and 12.8 billion cubic feet of gas. “It looks pretty promising,” said Ben Ebenhack, who teaches in the petroleum-engineering department at Marietta College. “If it had not gone up dramatically with this much drilling and completion activity, that would have been a bad sign.” In the quarterly figures, the average well produced 5,439 barrels of oil and 137 million cubic feet of gas. The average well was producing for 55 days. The results indicate that the Utica is rich in gas, while less notable in terms of oil content, Ebenhack said. “In the short term, companies may be disappointed because the gas market is struggling,” he said. Tom Stewart, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, also said the report supports the idea of the Utica as a gas-rich resource. But he is reluctant to draw broad conclusions from this one quarter of data. “It’s still really hard to get any kind of a trend line,” he said. Gulfport Energy of Oklahoma City is owner of the top five gas-producing wells, all of which are in Belmont County. It also owns the top-producing oil well, which is in Harrison County. “Gulfport is in the sweet spot of the sweet spot,” Stewart said. The top five oil-producing wells are spread among three counties — Carroll, Harrison and Noble — and four companies. In November, Gulfport CEO James Palm said his company is “very pleased” with the initial results from one of its newly drilled Utica wells, and “we look forward to drilling a number of wells in the surrounding area during 2014.”



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