Drilling Down

Permits, Rig Count Still Weak in Ohio’s Utica

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The continued collapse in oil prices has stalled oil and gas exploration across Ohio’s Utica shale and Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale, while permit activity is also anemic, data show.

According to the weekly rig count report issued Feb. 6 by Baker Hughes, 19 horizontal rigs were operating across Pennsylvania. It’s the lowest rig count since 2007, as energy companies have shuttered natural-gas drilling operations across the state in the face of low commodity prices.

And in eastern Ohio’s Utica, just 13 rigs were operational, most of them in the southern tier of the shale play, Baker Hughes reports. In mid-January 2015, the rig count hovered around 50 operating derricks in the Utica.

The report shows 885 rigs were shut down across the United States year-to-date, while 48 were closed during the week ended Feb.6.

Meanwhile, new permits seeking additional drill sites have dried up across both shale plays.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, just four horizontal well permits were issued during the week ended Feb. 6.

R.E. Gas Development, a subsidiary of Rex Energy, secured two horizontal permits for wells in Carroll County and Chesapeake Exploration LLC, a division of Chesapeake Energy Corp., received two permits to drill wells in Jefferson County.

To date, 2,133 permits have been issued in Ohio’s Utica. Of that number, 1,678 wells have been drilled and 1,150 wells are in production, ODNR reports.

There were no new permits issued for Mahoning, Trumbull or Columbiana counties during the week, ODNR reports. Nor were there new permits issued for Utica wells in neighboring Mercer and Lawrence counties in western Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.