Ohio Update: With 37 Permits, It’s Still Early Days for Marcellus & Utica Shale Drilling

An update on the state of shale gas drilling—both Marcellus and Utica—in Ohio:

According to the state Department of Natural Resources [ODNR], 37 permits for Marcellus and Utica shale drilling have been issued in the state. All of those permits lie on the eastern edge of the state, from Mahoning County to Washington County.

The majority of those permits are held by two exploration companies: Chesapeake Energy Corp., of Oklahoma City, and Marquette Exploration, of Woodlands, Texas.

Both of those companies expressed a willingness to further develop shale play in the state.

"Chesapeake has high hopes for emerging development in eastern Ohio," Chesapeake spokeswoman Jacque Bland said. "Currently, we are very early in an exploration phase of development and evaluation. We plan to drill wells across a wide area of play, assess the geology and then will determine the extent and location of future operations."*

Where in the process is Ohio at this point?

ODNR geologist Mike McKormic said the exploration phase currently under way is often considered the second of a three-phase process that leads to natural gas exportation. The first is leasing land to developers, and the third is full-scale drilling.

"Right now it’s just core studies, analyzing the shale and determining a possible return," McKormic said.*

How long does it take before drilling might begin?

Bob Blair, of the Tioga County (Pa.) department of development, said it was more than five years after initial exploration wells were drilled until the area saw significant action involving in Marcellus or Utica shale.*

What are the prospects that drilling will actually happen?

Bland [Chesapeake spokeswoman] said further development is strictly speculative at this point.

"Our position may support future horizontal development should the geology and data we receive prove the acreage is prospective for future development," she said. "It is simply too early to speculate about any future development plans until we have more information about the geology over a wide area."*

*Warren Tribune Chronicle (Jul 17, 2011) – Region in play for natural gas developers