Marcellus drilling on rise in Ohio

SARDIS – The way Shawn Bennett sees it, oil and natural gas producers working in Eastern Ohio have a great economic opportunity to drill into both the Utica and Marcellus shale formations via the same pad.

“It can be very economical because you can drill Utica wells for dry gas and Marcellus wells for wet gas on the same pad,” said Bennett, senior vice president of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association.

“And more wells mean for royalties,” he added.

Generally, Ohio is associated with the Utica shale play, while West Virginia is considered part of the Marcellus shale play. However, both rock formations are found thousands of feet underground in both states, while producers are now developing Utica wells in the Northern Panhandle. The Utica is as deep as 12,000 feet, while the Marcellus is at about a 6,000-foot depth.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, producers have drilled 44 Marcellus wells in Belmont, Monroe, Jefferson and Columbiana counties. Companies working on Marcellus wells in the Buckeye State include:

– Norway-based Statoil, 14.

– Houston, Texas-based Magnum Hunter, 13.

– ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy, four.

– Oklahoma City-based American Energy Partners, three.

– Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, one.

– New York City-based Hess Corp., three.

– Oklahoma City-based Gulfport Energy, one.

– Canonsburg, Pa.-based CNX Gas Corp., one.

– State College, Pa.-based Eclipse Resources, one.

– Canonsburg, Pa-based EM Energy, one.

– Tulsa, Okla.-based Protege Energy, one.

– Warrendale, Pa.-based Phillips Exploration, one.

“The Marcellus starts thin out once you get into Ohio,” Bennett said. “But even though it thins out, it is wet gas, so that makes it more valuable,” Bennett said.

He noted producers quickly can sell the dry Utica methane gas, while sending the Marcellus NGL to processing plants so the individual products can go to market.

“It will be the most productive in Belmont and Monroe counties, most likely,” Bennett said. “We just have to test it to see how it goes.”