ST. CLAIRSVILLE - One Monroe County Utica Shale well yielded 1.33 billion cubic feet of natural gas over 67 days, while one in Harrison County pumped 26,095 barrels of oil during an 80-day period in late 2013.
On the strength of East Ohio operations such as these, oil and natural gas production nearly doubled from 2012 to 2013 and grew by 65 percent from the first three months of 2013 to the first three months of 2014, according to figures released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
"We are still trying to understand the borders of the play, but the most productive wells now are in southeast Ohio," Mike Chadsey, spokesman for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said. "We are very encouraged by the production numbers. People are seeing that the Utica is the real deal."
In the entire state of Ohio, Gulfport Energy's Boy Scout well in Harrison County led the way by pumping 26,095 barrels of oil during 80 days of production from October through December, ODNR numbers show.
The Antero Resources Gary well in Monroe County generated 1.33 billion cubic feet of natural gas over a 67-day term during the same time frame.
"You've got Gulfport and Antero, plus Rice Energy and Aubrey McClendon's new firm doing a lot of work in your area," Chadsey said.
Giving their wells the names Bigfoot and Blue Thunder, Rice is now drilling southeast of Barkcamp State Park along Ohio 149. The company recently discovered 41 million cubic feet of natural gas per day with the"Bigfoot" well.
"We are especially pleased to deliver these strong results to the landowners of Belmont County, who have believed in us from the beginning," said Toby Rice, the company's chief operating officer.
As for McClendon, the founder and former CEO of Chesapeake Energy now controls multiple lease agreements totaling more than 260,000 acres across eastern Ohio via his new American Energy Partners firm.
In 2011, industry leaders estimated Ohio's portion of the Utica Shale may have contained as many as 5.6 billion barrels of oil. However, Chadsey said drilling results show the Utica will likely be more of a gas play that features some associated oil.
ODNR figures for 352 horizontal shale wells show these operations yielded a total of 3.6 million barrels of oil and 100 billion cubic feet of gas last year.
"Ohio's oil and gas industry is growing and moving our state toward energy independence," ODNR Director James Zehringer said. "At the same time, we have updated our laws and increased our staff to provide Ohioans the proper protections as the industry continues to grow."
The regulatory agency believes all oil and natural gas wells in the state produced 8 million barrels of oil and 171 billion cubic feet of gas, respectively, in 2013. Compared to 2012, Ohio's total oil production increased by 62 percent and natural gas production increased by 97 percent.
Zehringer said Ohio's regulatory agencies, including the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Commerce and ODNR, have taken steps to streamline their permitting and inspection processes as a means to promote development.
However, he said increased production depends on the building of more midstream infrastructure projects to process and transport natural gas and oil.
"Companies are investing billions of dollars and creating jobs for Ohioans, proving the value and importance of the Utica Shale play," JobsOhio Senior Managing Director David Mustine said.