Boom! Columbiana County Gushed Oil in 2023

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Oil production gushed to heights once thought unfathomable throughout Columbiana County during 2023, representing a new phase in drilling operations in this section of the Utica/Point Pleasant shale formation.

Through the first nine months of 2023 – the most recent production data available – horizontal wells across the county collectively produced 728,413 barrels of oil, according to records from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Division.

To place these numbers into context, Columbiana County’s wells during all of 2022 yielded just 20,350 barrels of oil, according to ODNR. That represents an increase of 3,479% without adding fourth quarter numbers in 2023.

Oil production last year was driven by a handful of wells drilled by EAP Ohio – a subsidiary of Houston-based Encino Energy Partners – in Hanover and Knox townships, records show. 

During the third quarter, for example, four EAP wells drilled at the Sanor Farms well pad in Knox Township yielded 258,739 barrels of oil. Three of those wells – the Sanor 6H, 8H and 10H – are ranked sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, among the top 10 oil producers in the state, according to ODNR.

Natural gas production in Columbiana County’s Utica/Point Pleasant also showed signs of strength through three quarters during 2023, easily outpacing 2022’s numbers, data show.  

Horizontal wells across the county through three quarters in 2023 produced a combined 69.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas. In comparison, wells in the county produced 66 billion cubic feet of natural gas during all of 2022, records show.

Columbiana County is home to three active oil and gas producers in the Utica/Point Pleasant: EAP, Hilcorp Energy Co. and Geopetro LLC. 

The vast amount of oil and gas production comes from EAP’s 78 wells and Hilcorp’s 50 active wells in the county. Geopetro operates nine wells.

While oil and gas production improved last year compared with the previous year, the number of permits issued to Hilcorp and EAP to drill new horizontal wells declined slightly in 2023 compared with 2022.

According to ODNR, these operators were awarded 36 permits to drill new wells in the county, compared with 40 issued the year before. Another 10 permits were issued to Hilcorp and EAP to deepen existing wells, records show.

However, these numbers show dramatic improvement when compared with 2021, when just 25 permits for new wells were issued. In 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, ODNR issued 12 permits.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.