Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ohio's first-quarter natural gas/oil production goes up in 2013, down in 2014

There’s gold in them there two Ohio shale layers.

Only that gold is liquid and gaseous in nature and not a metal. Never-the-less they remain just as valuable to the state, the nation, and even the world.

Based on data assembled by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio’s natural gas production nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013.

Of course what goes up must come down, and so it seems true for oil and natural gas production. 

That production has seen a substantial shaving when the first quarters of both 2012 and 2013 and poured side-by-side with the first quarter of 2014.

And the reason for the jump between 2012 and 2013, says the department, is because of the boom in the exploration of the gas via the so-named organic-rich Utica and Marcellus Shale geological formations that underlay much of eastern Ohio.

 U.S. Geological Survey data notes the Utica Shale Formation covers most of eastern Ohio, nearly one-half of Pennsylvania, a goodly bit of New York and for all practical purposes, all of West Virginia.

 Also, a rather wide slice of eastern Ohio sees the Utica layer beneath the Marcellus Shale layer. Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula counties all are within the Utica Shale oil and natural gas field.

Where these two petroleum-rich formations lie one atop geologists frequently like to call this an “oil sweet spot,"

And reports that scientists believe the entire Utica Shale fossil fuel field may contain up to 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 940 million barrels of oil, and 208 million barrels of natural gas liquids.

An attraction for drillers is that the Utica Shale formation rises closer to the surface in Ohio than in other states.

For Ohio, the Natural Resources Department says its 2013 data (collected by state regulators) comes from 352 licensed horizontal shale wells. In raw figures these 352 wells produced 3.6 million barrels of oil and 100 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

By comparison, this production increased 65 percent from 2012’s first quarter to 2013’s first quarter.

When all of the numbers for 2013 are crunched, the Natural Resources Department anticipates that eight million barrels of oil will be slurped from the bowls of Ohio along with 171 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Compared to 2012, Ohio’s total oil production increased by 62 percent and natural gas production increased by 97 percent. The percentage increase in natural gas production is the largest in Ohio history, and the total production is the fourth highest annual total in state history, the Natural Resources Department says

 However, the Natural Resources Department’s production data for the first quarter of 2014 showed production declines in spite of an increase in the number of permitted wells. For the first quarter of this year, 418 permitted wells reported a decreased production of 1.9 million barrels of oil and 67 billion cubic feet of gas.

Even so, the Natural Resources Department sees the production growth through rose-colored glasses.

The agency says oil and natural gas production “depends heavily on the development of the midstream infrastructure needed to transfer the resources to market.”

“In a little more than 24 months, a new industry developed, including 11 processing facilities and miles of new pipelines. Companies have spent or have committed more than $6 billion on midstream infrastructure,” says a Natural Resources Department press release.

In a hearty and healthy – if not just a tad hyperbole – press release the department’s director James Zehringer says “Ohio’s oil and gas industry is growing and moving our state toward energy independence.”

“At the same time, we have updated our laws and increased our staff to provide Ohioans the proper protections as the industry continues to grow,” Zehringer crowed.

“Companies are investing billions of dollars and creating jobs for Ohioans, proving the value and importance of the Utica shale play,” also says JobsOhio Senior Managing Director David Mustine, who once was the Natural Resources Director..

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who  covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. During his 30 years with The News-Herald Jeff was the recipient of more than 100 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.

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