Of Things to Come…

This week, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources released initial production statistics for Utica Shale wells in 2011.  What the data show is a limited sample, but an astounding one nonetheless.

For example, one Utica Shale well in Harrison County was responsible for 2% of Ohio’s total natural gas supply last year.  Wouldn’t be much of a stat if there were only 100 wells producing natural gas in Ohio. But guess what? There’s more than 41,000. So, in other words, 0.002 percent of Ohio’s wells were responsible for 2.0 percent of the state’s total natural gas supplies. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Utica Shale.

According to Rick Simmers, chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management, “That well has 300 times more in daily production than the average well drilled vertically into the ground.” And by all accounts, we’re just getting started.

Any way you slice it, that’s good news for Ohio and the nation as the resources we produce here could go a long way toward reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign sources of energy.  A Reuters story this week explains in greater detail exactly why that is – laying out how shale plays throughout the U.S. (the Utica especially) are changing the dynamic for consumers and actually (finally!) doing something about America’s dependence on Mideast oil.  From the piece:

That diet of cheaper, domestic crude would help the Philadelphia plant wean itself away from the Angolan, Azeri, Nigerian and Norwegian oil that is now its mainstay — and which costs some $20 a barrel more than U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate and $35-plus more than North Dakota’s Bakken crude, according to Reuters data.

While this initial look is extremely positive on a local and national level, the development of the Utica is just beginning in Ohio.

This data represents a mere snapshot in time of what will likely be a vast, and growing, resource. To take the production from five wells and forecast the development of the formation across the state would be premature. However, with that knowledge in one hand, the other holds another promising truth: we can marry these figures to other positive indicators in estimating the incredible potential of Ohio’s amazing geological gifts.

This past year alone, we’ve seen enormous amounts of investment poured into the state from producers, developers, upstream and midstream companies alike to create the needed infrastructure required to develop these untold volumes of energy. We’ve seen the long dormant steel industry revived in Youngstown and Lorain as plants prepare to meet the demands of an invested and optimistic oil and gas industry.

Most importantly, we are witnessing enormous and immediate gains in Ohio’s workforce. In the six months since we released our 2011 Economic Impact Study, reported employment tied to shale development has surpassed initial projections. With over 6,000 jobs created or supported by the industry, the opportunity to continue grow our economy is tied directly to continued success in the Utica Shale.

There is much room for optimism, and Ohio’s oil and gas industry is moving forward- safely, responsibly and diligently driving our state’s economic future towards prosperity.


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