Buried Treasure

Revised Utica Shale Prospects Attract Energy Industry Leaders

By Stephanie Ginter
Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

The newly released map from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Geological Survey depicts potential oil and gas holdings throughout Eastern Ohio; ranging from poor to excellent with 'excellent rated' counties including much of Stark County, Tuscarawas, Coshocton, Trumbull, and Portage.

While the map, relying on new data, shows promising fuel deposits spanning roughly 10.8 million acres, state geologists suggest all the buzz about the revised portrait of potential Utica shale holdings is quite premature. Larry Wickstrom, one of the four men responsible for developing and revising the map, confirmed that the map is “just the addition of new information, and fine-tuning what we have.” It is more so the state’s best guess of possible Utica shale holdings that could be trapped thousands of feet underground.

So what's all the fuss about Utica shale?

We've been hearing about the Marcellus Shale region since drilling began in 2004, it's now being developed into one of the world's largest natural gas fields. But recently geologists have discovered that this particular region holds much more than just the Marcellus Shale.

The source rock, Utica Shale, found several thousand feet beneath the Marcellus Shale is thicker, deeper, and more geographically extensive, covering portions of Kentucky, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Ontario, Canada, and beneath parts of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.

The enormous potential to become the next major natural gas resource capable of commercial production has captured the attention of both the public and major drilling companies.

Over 40,000 wells have been drilled throughout the Utica Shale region to date, with the most recent buzz about the revised outlook for Utica Shale prospects in Ohio, where state officials predict an estimated 2,250 wells to be drilled by the end of 2015.

Last week The Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued Trumbull County's first Utica Shale drilling permit in Vienna Township. CNX Gas Company, a subsidiary of CONSOL Energy, began construction last week with drilling expected to start sometime this June.

Other major oil companies have expressed a marked interest in conducting exploratory drilling in the Utica Shale region including, but not limited to, Chesapeake Energy, Shell Oil Co., Chevron, Exxon, and NiSource.

But Ohio's not the only state with hyped up headlines about Utica Shale prospects. Crawford County in Meadville, Pennsylvania has major potential for future gas drilling activity, with big energy companies like Shell and Chevron investing billions in new petrochemical facilties throughout the region. Industry experts estimate the potential for drilling in Pennsylvania at 50,000 to 100,000 wells, compared to the current 4,000.

Until next time,

Stephanie


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