Utica Rig Count Plunges, More Production Forecast

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Eastern Ohio’s Utica shale is projected to be the single shale play among the top seven in the country to increase natural gas production in April, according to the latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

The EIA’s monthly drilling productivity report shows that the Utica region is expected to yield 3.645 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in April compared to 3.623 billion a day recorded in March, or 22 million more cubic feet daily.

Six other major shale plays across the country measured by the EIA – the Bakken in North Dakota; the Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Permian in Texas; the Marcellus in Pennsylvania; and the Niobrara in Wyoming and Colorado — all anticipate reduced natural gas productivity next month.

The Utica’s oil production is expected to remain unchanged at 82,000 barrels per day. Oil output in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale is also stagnant and is expected to remain static at 41,000 barrels per day. All other plays report oil production should fall in April.

Oil and gas production per rig in the Utica is also on the rise, EIA data show.

In April, average natural gas production among new wells should stand at 7.049 million cubic feet per day versus 6.935 million cubic feet in March, an increase of 114,000 cubic feet.

Average oil production per new well, per rig, is projected to increase to 324 barrels a day in April from 310 barrels per day in March, according to EIA.

Exploration in the Utica as in other plays has slowed dramatically because of depressed oil and gas prices. The increase in production is largely because companies are just now placing wells they drilled earlier into production through pipeline hookups.

The Utica’s rig count has tumbled even more over the last several months.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Oil and Gas Division, the rig count across Ohio’s Utica dropped to 11 operating rigs as of March 19, down from 15 rigs reported two weeks earlier. In January 2015, there were more than 50 rigs operating in the Utica at any given time.

And, just one new permit for a horizontal well was issued during the week ended March 19, according to ODNR. EM Energy of Ohio LLC received the permit for a new well in Monroe County.

There were no new permits issued for Columbiana, Mahoning or Trumbull counties for the week. Nor were any new permits awarded to energy companies for new wells in nearby Mercer or Lawrence counties in western Pennsylvania.


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