Utica Core Emerges as Production Climbs

Production from the emerging Utica shale in Ohio climbed in 2013, according to the latest data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

"Ohio is at the beginning of an unprecedented era of oil and gas production," ODNR Director James Zehringer told a recent event at Stark State College in Stark County, Ohio.

ODNR data show gas production from horizontal wells averaged 470 MMcfd in the fourth quarter of 2013, up from 35 MMcfd in all of 2012. Oil production rose to 15,600 b/d from 1,740 b/d.

The addition of gas gathering, compression, and processing capacity contributed to further growth in the first 3 months of 2014. First-quarter production averaged 750 MMcfd of gas and 21,700 b/d of oil.

David Mustine, senior managing director of JobsOhio, said production growth is heavily dependent on the development of midstream infrastructure. In the past 24 months, he said, an estimated $6 billion in midstream commitments have been made in eastern Ohio. Active companies include M3 Midstream, Williams, MarkWest, NiSource, and Caimen Energy.

Ohio production is rising in step with increased drilling and completion activity. The number of completed Utica wells increased to 352 in 2013 from 85 in 2012.

ODNR has so far issued 1,400 permits to drill in the Utica shale and 40 permits to drill in the Marcellus shale. Of these, 970 wells have been drilled.

State permitting data show that activity is migrating to the southeastern portion of the state; Monroe County was home to the state's two top-performing wells in this year's first quarter. Eclipse Resources I LP's Tippens Unit No. 6HS yielded 1.117 bcf during 80 days online, and Antero Resources Corp.'s Gary Unit No. 2H produced 1.115 bcf during 90 days online.

In all, 6 of the top 20 wells drilled in Ohio during the first quarter were in Monroe County. The other 14 were in neighboring Belmont County, both in eastern Ohio.

Jeanie Oudin, an energy analyst with Wood Mackenzie, said the most productive fairway of the Utica is in southeast Ohio. Well performance in this area now rivals that of wells drilled in the core of the prolific Marcellus shale.

Wood Mackenzie expects production from the Utica shale will rise to 5 bcfd by 2018.

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