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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Ohio Drilling Permits Top 1000

Ohio's Utica Shale has passed another mile post. It has been just over two years since I began posting on the potential and progress of Ohio's contribution to the nation's energy supply. On November 26, Ohio issued drilling permit number 1000. The latest total is 1015. The Ohio DNR has issued 565 permits in 2013 passing the projected 525 nicely. Of the 1,015 permits, 250 are producing and 294 are drilled but not yet producing which leaves 83 that are being drilled and 388 that have been permitted but not drilled.
Carroll County has the most permits with 358, followed by Harrison County, 154; Columbiana County, 94; Noble County, 74; and Guernsey County, 64.
While it's hard to be gloomy about the progress to date a little perspective is in order. Aubrey McClendon judges the Utica to be richer than Texas' Eagle Ford Shale but the Eagle Ford is strictly an oil play and has progressed much further than the Utica. Currently there are 229 rigs working the Eagle Ford. Ohio has 35 working rigs. With 294 wells drilled but not producing there is little chance that Ohio can expect a dramatic up tick its rig count in the near term. It must first build the infrastructure to separate the natural gas from the condensates and the pipelines to transport both as well as oil pipelines.
Condensates, mostly propane and butane, exist in a gaseous state when under well pressure but condense into what we used to call "drip gas" at atmospheric pressure. They are more valuable than natural gas (methane) and are sold separately. They have a variety of different uses; including enhancing oil recovery in oil wells, providing raw materials for oil refineries or petrochemical plants, and as sources of energy. MarkWest Energy Partners LPA has begun construction of cryogenic processing plant at its Seneca complex in Noble County and others will follow ( and create more jobs) but in the meantime the Utica will endure growing pains.

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