BRIDGEPORT - There is a new standard for the deepest gas well in Ohio's history, as David Hill Inc. is finished drilling its 13,727-foot deep vertical well at the top of Kirkwood Heights near Bridgeport.
As driller David Hill determines whether to use his new well for gas production or for storing brine left over from hydraulic fracturing at other natural gas sites, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has granted permits to drill several other gas wells throughout Belmont County.
The drilling is complete, though the rig can still be seen at the top of the hill from Interstate 70 during the daytime. Hill said this is because there is nowhere for the device to go right now. If Hill's depth estimate is correct, the 13,727-foot well shatters the record of 11,442 feet for a Noble County well drilled in 1967.
Photo by Casey Junkins
The drilling rig at the top of Kirkwood Heights in Belmont County will soon be leaving the site, after workers used the device to drill the deepest well in the history of Ohio.
"We reached the Mount Simon Sandstone," he said, noting the shaft also penetrates both the Marcellus and Utica shales.
Hill - who has been drilling holes in search of gas for 31 years - said he is "cautiously optimistic" that the well will be able to produce fuel, though he maintains the backup plan of using it as an injection well. His company currently operates about 300 wells in Ohio and West Virginia.
The property owner, St. Clairsville-based Georgetown Marine Inc., is set to gain 12.5 percent worth of production royalties if gas flows from the Kirkwood site. Georgetown representatives have directed all questions regarding the matter to Hill.
Hill is currently evaluating the viability of the shaft, noting "We are very happy and proud that we had no adverse incidents during the drilling process."
"We are cautiously optimistic," he said. "When we get the results, we will move into the completion phase."
Though the completion phase generally involves hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, Hill said this process - which calls for drillers to pump 5 million to 6 million gallons of water, sand and chemicals into each well to help release gas - may not be necessary at the Kirkwood Heights site.
"We will run tubing and punch holes in the pipe," he said. "I am not sure we will have to frack the well."
However, Hill said if the well seems unlikely to produce much gas, he could use it as an injection well to dispose of brine drawn from other drilling sites.
"Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale are going to happen in Belmont County. If it becomes an injection well, this will be a responsible way to dispose of the brine."
After gas drillers pump shale shafts full of fracking fluid, much of this substance flushes back up through the well.
The original fluid combines with minerals and mud from the earth to create the briny wastewater. Gas drillers have been known to use ethylene glycol, a substance found in antifreeze, in their fracking fluid. Some others have used formaldehyde, which the Occupational Safety and Health Administration identifies as "reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen."
Other Permitted Wells
At a depth of 8,450 feet beneath the soil near Barnesville, Consol Energy Inc. recently struck the Utica Shale rock formation - a discovery that will allow the company to develop more natural gas.
According to the the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website, drillers have also received permission to grind out gas and/or oil wells at the following sites:
With more drilling moving across the Buckeye State, Ohio Gov.-elect John Kasich now acknowledges that the Marcellus Shale could give a needed economic boost to the state.
Kasich said Thursday his administration would focus on helping businesses and skilled workers take advantage of any gas deposits. He said Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy has big plans in Ohio.