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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ohio gas production increased 49% over second quarter

In spite of the looming threat from lower world wide oil prices the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued a very positive third quarter production report. During the third quarter Utica Shale wells produced 3,013,667 barrels of oil and 132,017,386 Mcf (132 billion cubic feet) of natural gas. Oil increased by more than 546,000 barrels and gas by more than 43 billion cubic feet compared to the second quarter of 2014. In 2013 248 wells produced 1,335,326 barrels of oil and 33,632,889 Mcf (33 billion cubic feet) of natural gas.
The reported noted that 647 well reported production, 717 wells have been drilled and 43 wells are awaiting pipeline. Here are the highlights:
  • The average amount of oil produced was 4,471 barrels.
  • The average amount of gas produced was 195,871 Mcf.
  • The highest producing oil well was the CNX Gas Company’s “Reserve Coal Properties Co., NBL19CHSU” well in Noble County at 50,159 barrels of oil in 86 days of production. The highest producing natural gas well was the Antero Resources “Gary Unit, 3H” well in Monroe County at 1.7 billion cubic feet during 90 days of production.
More importantly the number of permits issued did not decline. Through November 627 well had been permitted and the ODNR has predicted 700 for the year.
On the national level the US Energy Information Agency produced more bullish news. Proved reserves surpassed 36 billion barrels for the first time since 1975. So much for the "peak oil" theory, that all the accessible oil had been discovered, which gained a considerable flock of zealous devotees in the mid 70's.

The biggest winner was North Dakota which gained 1.9 billion barrels. The biggest loser was Alaska where proved reserves decreased by 454 million barrels, due mainly to reduced well performance at large existing oil fields. Ohio added 23 million barrels.
At some point one reasons that US drilling will decline in the face of falling oil prices but at what point? Price is one consideration but cost is another. The shale boom has been financed chiefly with junk bonds in an era of historically low interest. Do drillers continue drilling as long as cheap money is available? Does a company that owns its own rigs allow a lease to expire without drilling when the cost of drilling the well is essentially tubing and labor or does it lay off valuable personnel and await higher prices? The answer varies by company and production costs closely guarded secrets.
Another consideration is refining capacity. If US oil production continues increasing at its present rate at some point it will be producing more oil than it can refine and it is still illegal to export crude. The US price would be below the world price at that point and it would bring about an abrupt halt. In the meantime enjoy the good news and cheap gas.

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