Chesapeake to Resume Light Drilling in Utica

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Chesapeake Energy Corp. says it plans to drill up to five wells this year in eastern Ohio’s Utica shale and bring between 45 and 55 wells into production, according to an investors presentation posted on the company’s website.

Money invested into drilling this year is going to the Utica, said Frank Patterson, Chesapeake’s executive vice president, exploration, land and subsurface technology, during a conference call with analysts last week.

“As far as moneys being spent in the field, it is going to the Utica,” Patterson said. That’s because the company plans to place additional dry wells into pipelines this year and next year because of new pipelines that extend to the Gulf region, he said. “We’re pretty happy with our position. We are going to be putting on additional Utica dry wells this year and next year and growing some additional Utica dry wells going forward.”

Chesapeake CEO Doug Lawler noted that the nearby Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania was a “powerful asset” that demonstrates “significant upside in terms of opportunity there.”

Chesapeake reported that its horizontal wells are showing better results because of extended laterals, made possible since the cost per foot has dropped significantly since the end of 2014, the presentation shows.

At the end of 2014, the average development cost per foot stood at about $1,000. Chesapeake said it expects to reduce those costs to $429 per foot by the end of 2016.

And, by the end of this year, the company plans to hit average laterals of 10,500 feet, compared to the 5,600-foot average at year-end 2014.

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