Decline in Utica Rig Count as Industry Retrenches

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The rig count in Ohio’s Utica shale play continues to shrink as oil and gas producers see no break in the lower energy prices that have caused the industry to pull back on new exploration.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported that the rig count for the week stood at 26 versus 29 reported a week earlier. By comparison, 51 rigs were operating in the Utica during the week ended Jan. 10.

Natural Gas Intelligence, a trade journal, reported Tuesday that the Baker Hughes Inc. drilling rig count in North America for the week ending March 20 declined 136 rigs from the week before (READ STORY) . That leaves 1,209 active rigs, “down 983 from one year ago,” reports NGI.

Last week ODNR issued 10 new drilling permits, all of them in the central or southern tier of eastern Ohio’s Utica.

Four permits were issued to Denver-based Antero Resources Corp. for wells in Monroe County, while American Energy Utica LLC, an affiliate of Oklahoma City-based American Energy Partners, received permits for three wells in Belmont County.

Chesapeake Exploration LLC, also of Oklahoma City, secured two permits for wells in Carroll County, and Eclipse Resources, State College, Pa., secured a single permit for a well in Monroe County.

ODNR has issued 1,864 permits in Ohio’s Utica and 1,400 horizontal wells have been drilled to date. The agency reports 829 of those wells are producing.

No new permits were issued for wells in Trumbull, Mahoning, or Columbiana counties in Ohio.

However, Houston-based Hilcorp Energy Co. secured two new permits for wells in Lawrence County in Pennsylvania, which abuts Mahoning County.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Hilcorp received two permits to drill at the Hec110 site in Pulaski Township.

No new permits were issued for wells in Mercer County, Pa., directly to the north of Lawrence County.

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