Ohio shale drilling picking up slowly

The number of shale drilling permits issued in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale play has been inching up.

Earlier in the year, there were 14 horizontal drilling permits issued in the  play for the week ending Jan. 30.

Back then, the total number of permits issued was 2,129, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The ODNR’s weekly report for the week ending Nov. 19 shows the total number of horizontal drilling permits at 2,311, an increase of 182, since January.

In January, there were 1,147 wells listed as in the producing stage of the 1,673 that have been drilled.

There are currently 1,468 wells producing, an increase of 321 since January.

There are now 1,851 wells that have been drilled, an increase of 178 from the total of 1,673 wells that had been drilled as of last January.

Three weeks ago, in its report of Utica/Point Pleasant shale activity for the week ending Nov. 5, the ODNR issued 11 horizontal drilling permits to Hilcorp in Columbiana County. All 11 are in Fairfield Township for the Unkefer property and have re-directed drilling interest back into Columbiana County after a year of flagging permit applications.

The rig count in the Utica/Point Pleasant play also increased to 21 from 16 just a few weeks ago.

Last January there are 17 rigs operating in the play, compared to the 55 drilling rigs in the play as late as the third week of December 2014, a high-water mark for drilling rigs. The number of rigs remained fairly constant throughout the year.

The latest ODNR report for the week ending Nov. 19 shows 13 new drilling permits issued, with five in Belmont County, and four each in Guernsey and Monroe counties.

No rigs are drilling in the Ohio Marcellus shale, according to the ODNR where there are 44 horizontal wells permitted, 29 drilled and 20 producing.

There are about 150 permitted wells in Columbiana County since the shale boom took hold three years ago.

Last week, shale drilling hit the headlines again when the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued its first assessment of the Wolfcamp shale (central Texas) and estimated it held 20 billion undiscovered barrels of oil which amounts to three times as much as the Bakken Shale in North Dakota.

The USGS said its assessment of the Wolfcamp was the largest of shale oil in the U.S. it has done so far.

In addition to the 20 billion barrels of oil, the region also holds 16 trillion cubic feet of associated natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of natural gas liquids, the USGS said in a release.