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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Horizontal wells operating in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale region yielded more than 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas during 2016, a 43.4% increase from 2015, according to the latest production reports from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

ODNR reported Monday that the Utica produced 1.370 trillion cubic feet of natural gas last year compared to 955.610 billion cubic feet in 2015.

For the quarter ended Dec. 31, ODNR reported that wells in the Utica produced 345.241 billion cubic feet of gas, a 14.1% increase over the same period in 2015.

Oil production, hampered by the collapse in commodity prices that started their free-fall in late 2014, was markedly lower in 2016 versus the previous year, ODNR reported.

ODNR said that in 2016 Utica wells yielded 17.949 million barrels of oil versus 23.054 million in 2015, or a drop of 22%. In the fourth quarter, the percentage drop was even steeper as Utica wells produced 3.577 million barrels compared with 6.380 million barrels in 2015, or a decrease of 43.9%.

The state department listed 1,561 wells in its quarterly report, of which 1,511 reported production.

Ascent Resources Utica LLC’s Smithfield 4H well in Jefferson County produced the most gas of any well in the state during the quarter with 1.635 billion cubic feet of gas produced over 92 days.

Eclipse Resources LP’s Purple Hayes 1H well in Guernsey County produced the most oil of all Utica wells, yielding 75,795 barrels over the quarter.

In the northern tier of the Utica, which encompasses Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, production was much less than the gas- and oil-rich counties in the southern tier of the Utica, the ODNR report shows.

The most productive gas well in Columbiana County is Chesapeake Exploration’s Paige 5H well in Franklin Township, which produced 535.934 million cubic feet of gas during the quarter.

Oil production in the county was negligible. The highest oil yield during the quarter came from Chesapeake’s D&B Kibler well, which produced 2,795 barrels, just above the per well average oil production of 2,392 barrels in the Utica.

Mahoning County’s top gas well during the fourth quarter was Hilcorp Energy Co.’s Poland-CLL2 6H well. It produced 14.5 million cubic feet of natural gas. The largest oil producer in the county was Halcon Operating Co.’s Grenameyer 1H well in Jackson Township, which yielded just 625 barrels during the period.

Trumbull County reported two wells with production   — the Kibler 2-3H and the Kibler 1H. The Kibler 2-3H produced the most gas with 41.5 million cubic feet over the quarter while the Kibler 1H produced the most oil, 666 barrels.

The average amount of gas produced per well in the Utica during the quarter stood at 228.6 million cubic feet, according to ODNR.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.