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Utica Shale Oil, Natural Gas Volumes Rebound in First Quarter

Ohio's unconventional oil and natural gas production appeared to bounce back during the first quarter, coming off lows in 2016 when rig counts, less spending and a smaller backlog of drilled but uncompleted wells affected some of the state's metrics.

Data released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on Friday showed that shale drillers produced 371.9 Bcf of natural gas during 1Q2017, up from 329.5 Bcf in the year-ago period and 345.2 Bcf in 4Q2016. The downturn's lingering effects led to ODNR reporting the first sequential production decline in the fourth quarter since it began collecting that data in early 2014.

Likewise, oil production, which had seen four straight quarterly declines in the gas-rich state, bounced back quarter/quarter. ODNR said unconventional producers churned out 3.9 million bbl of oil during the first quarter. While that was down from 5.5 million bbl in 1Q2016, it was up from 3.6 million bbl in 4Q2016.

Ohio rig counts were stronger for the week ending on Friday, reaching 27 compared to just 12 at the same time last year, according to Baker Hughes Inc. They were up in nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia, as well.

ODNR's first quarter report lists 1,613 horizontal shale wells, 1,560 of which reported oil and gas production. The fourth quarter report listed 1,561 horizontal shale wells, of which 1,511 reported production. Ohio law does not require the separate reporting of natural gas liquids or condensate. Oil and gas totals include those volumes.

The Utica Shale continues to drive natural gas production increases in the state. To date, 2,518 Utica permits have been issued, while 2,014 have been drilled. At the time ODNR released its fourth quarter report in March, 2,427 Utica permits had been issued and 1,931 of them had been drilled. Forty-six Marcellus Shale permits have been issued in Ohio, while 30 of those wells have been drilled, according to ODNR data.

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