BRIDGEPORT - David Hill has completed about half the work required to drill the deepest natural gas well in Ohio history atop Kirkwood Heights.
John G. Corp plans to drill six more Marcellus Shale wells in Marshall County.
As Chesapeake Energy makes plans to drill on private property near The Highlands in Ohio County - and awaits permission from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to grind through the ground in Oglebay Park - other natural gas producers continue digging wells throughout the area.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Workers with Byesville, Ohio-based David Hill Inc. are trying to complete what would be the deepest natural gas well in Ohio’s history in the Kirkwood Heights area of Belmont County, just up the hill from Bridgeport.
Hill, operator of the Byesville, Ohio-based firm that bears his name, David Hill Inc., has drilled about 6,500 feet into the earth so far at his well site near Bridgport. The drilling rig can readily be seen by those traveling on Interstate 70, especially when its light illuminates the night sky.
"All is going well so far - we've had no accidents," Hill said. "Once we get below 9,000 feet, we will be in pretty uncharted territory."
Hill hopes to eventually reach the 13,000- to 14,000-foot range. If he achieves such depth, the well will be the Buckeye State's deepest, as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website shows the current record at 11,442 feet for a Noble County well drilled in 1967. In addition to the Marcellus Shale, Hill said this projected depth would allow him to break into the Clinton Sandstone and Utica Shale, which also contain natural gas.
"This could be a real economic shot in the arm for Belmont County," Hill said, stressing the project has yielded 30 to 40 temporary jobs and will bring three to five permanent jobs once drilling is finished. Moreover, the property owner, St. Clairsville-based Georgetown Marine Inc., is set to gain 12.5 percent production royalties from the drilling site.
"We want to make sure everything is done as safely as possible," said Hill, who also serves as chairman of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.
Meanwhile, across the Ohio River in Marshall County Trans Energy Inc. President Corp said drilling at the Groves No. 1 H site is now under way. This is the second of the company's four planned wells for the county during the remainder of this year, with the additional shafts planned for construction in early 2011. The drilling phase for the Stout No. 1 H is now complete, while the Whipkey No. 2 H near Cameron is already producing gas.
Corp said Trans Energy hopes to hydraulically fracture the Stout soon so that it can also become a producer.
"Moving to a development phase from an exploration phase is another significant step forward for Trans Energy to properly develop its acreage position in northern West Virginia," he said.
Company officials said this summer the Whipkey well was pumping an average of 4.45 million cubic feet of natural gas each day. This amount equals 4,450 MCF; "MCF" represents 1,000 cubic feet of gas, which could yield the property owners quite a catch on their 12-19 percent royalty contracts.
In Wetzel County, Trans Energy already has four productive gas wells, three of which are vertical with one horizontal. Corp said the horizontal well in this county now releases 1.2 million cubic feet of gas every day.
Though he hesitates to project future growth, Corp believes Trans Energy is poised to continue expanding its natural gas operations in West Virginia.
"We should be able to keep up the pace of drilling over the next couple of years," he said.