Where are the ‘Sweet Spots’ in Ohio’s Utica Shale?

sweet spotAccording to a professor of geology at Youngstown State University, the Mahoning Valley, the area around Youngstown in northeastern Ohio, is one of the “sweet spots” for natural gas drilling in Ohio. Is that statement accurate? MDN wondered, so we decided to analyze the latest numbers from the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR). Our analysis, along with a a couple of maps, is embedded below.

First, the statement from the Youngstown professor:

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Carrizo Exits Northern Utica Shale, Retains Southern Acreage

Carrizo Oil & Gas announced today it has sold its interest in the northern portion of the Utica Shale play—in Mercer and Crawford counties in Pennsylvania and Trumbull County in Ohio—for $43 million in cash (see the map below). Carrizo’s press release does not identify who purchased the lease interest in the northern Utica. Carrizo also does not say how many net acres are represented in the sale, although an MDN story from Oct. 2011 says the initial deal Carrizo signed included 15,000 acres (see this MDN story).

Carrizo has not, however, completely exited the Utica Shale. Far from it. They retain an interest in an additional 26,000 acres in the southern part of the Utica Shale play—in Guernsey County, Ohio. Looks like Carrizo has decided which part of the Ohio Utica Shale is their “sweet spot.” From the Carrizo press release:

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Surprising Data on Rig Counts for Dry vs Wet Gas Drilling

Seeking Alpha blogger Richard Zeits, whom we’ve highlighted before on MDN, is back with a new analysis of the latest Baker Hughes rig count. You need rigs to drill the holes—so the rig count is a good indicator of whether new drilling is going up, down or staying constant.

In Zeits’ extensive analysis (well worth your time to read and digest), he draws some conclusions about wet gas (natural gas liquids) versus dry gas (methane only) drilling as evidenced by the Baker Hughes numbers. His conclusions may surprise you, as it did us:

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UB Defends Shale Institute & Study in Response to SUNY Board

An update on the witch hunt at University at Buffalo (UB). You may recall that UB had the temerity, the gall, to establish a Shale Resources and Society Institute (SRSI) in April of this year. When said institute turned out its first report in May, which detailed how environmental problems caused by Marcellus Shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania were isolated, mostly minor and on the decline, the anti-drillers just about came off the rails. It was an all-hands-on-deck, we-must-obliterate-the-credibility-of-the-report-and-the-people-who-wrote-it campaign. And so the witch hunt began (see this MDN story).

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Illegal Protest Blocks Well Site Near Youngstown, OH

Anti-drilling protesters illegally blocked access to a horizontal shale gas well being drilled in Jackson Township in Mahoning County, Ohio (near Youngstown) on Sunday. The protest went on for five hours, but for some reason the police didn’t seem to think arresting and removing the protesters was a good idea.

The law-breakers, from the group Fracfree Mahoning Valley and Frackfree America, disappointingly included a lawyer and a reverend:

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Latest Bonus/Royalty Numbers Mentioned in Columbiana County

Leetonia Shale LLC is a for-profit company hoping to band residents together into a coalition in the Leetonia and Washingtonville, Ohio area to collectively lease their land to a drilling company. Terry May, president of Leetonia Shale, estimates there’s about 1,400 acres of smaller parcels left in the area that are currently not leased for drilling.

May held a meeting over the weekend at Leetonia High School to update area residents on progress and to attract more people to the coalition. Among the people attending was Franklin Square resident Don Shepard, who had this to say about the latest numbers being mentioned by May for signing bonuses and royalties in that part of Columbiana County:

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CONSOL 3Q12 Update: Earnings, NatGas Production Both Down

Here come the parade of third quarter operational and earnings updates from drilling companies. CONSOL is one of the first out of the gate. The company overall took a hit on earnings in the third quarter, largely because of their coal operations. However, their natural gas production was also down a bit from the third quarter of 2011: 39.5 billion cubic feet for 3Q12 vs. 40.4 billion cubic feet for 3Q11.

During 3Q12 CONSOL reports drilling 12 new Marcellus wells, completing 12 Marcellus wells, with 22 wells going online. Also during 3Q12 CONSOL drilled 4 new Utica wells, 2 were completed and 1 Utica well went online. Here’s the full details from the CONSOL press release:

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