The Marcellus Shale layer is about a mile down, depending on where you are. Lately, there’s been talk about tapping into the Utica Shale, which sits below the Marcellus, at about two miles down. A recent permit granted to Williams Production Appalachia to drill its exploratory well deeper on Route 487 in Sugarloaf Township, Columbia County in Pennsylvania sparked rumors that Williams was planning to tap into the Utica. But a spokesperson for Williams, Helen Humphreys, says that’s not true:
"I know that we are not going into the Utica Shale at all," she said.
The plan is to drill down past the Marcellus Shale to tap into the Onondaga limestone formation beneath, then go back up into the Marcellus, Humphreys said. The well has been drilled and the next step will be to hydraulically fracture it, but she said she didn’t have a date for when it will be done.*
What about other energy companies drilling in the Utica in PA?
There have been permits issued for the Utica Shale – although not many, and none in Northeastern Pennsylvania – and there are several other shale formations being tested.
Range Resources, the first company to drill a Marcellus Shale well in Pennsylvania, in 2004, is a pioneer in the state’s portion of the Utica Shale as well.
Last year, the company drilled a productive well in Beaver County. Range Resources President and Chief Operating Officer Jeffrey Ventura reported in an April 27 conference call the company is planning a second horizontal well in the Utica Shale later this year.*
*The Citizen’s Voice (May 1, 2011) – Williams has no plans to drill into Utica Shale