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Through First Nine Months, Ohio Underground Drilling Waste Disposal Nears 2014 Record

Ohio's Class II underground injection wells continued to accept more oil and natural gas drilling wastes through the first nine months of this year, nearing a state record set in 2014, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) data.

From January through September, 211 injection wells disposed of 20 million barrels of drilling waste, close to the record 22 million barrels accepted during full-year 2014 and outpacing the 16.3 million barrels injected in 2013.

Ohio producers sent more of the waste to injection wells than they did at the same time last year, the data shows, accounting for 9.7 million barrels of the nine month total. For all of 2014, they sent 10.7 million barrels and just 8.1 million barrels in 2013. The wastewater totals have increased with production.

Through the first nine months of this year, ODNR said earlier this month the state's shale wells produced nearly 16 million bbl of oil and more than 651 Bcf of natural gas, up 111% and 126%, respectively, from the same period last year (see Shale DailyDec. 3).

For years, though, most of the waste has been transported from out of state, primarily from neighboring West Virginia and Pennsylvania. ODNR data shows that 10.2 million barrels came from out of state during the nine month period, on track to outpace the 10.7 million barrels that came over state lines in 2014. A study released by the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center in August found that unconventional wells in Pennsylvania alone produced 42.9 million barrels of waste last year (see Shale DailyAug. 26).

While the center said 91% of that water was recycled, about 7.9% of it was transported for disposal in underground injection wells mostly located in Ohio. The other 1.1% was treated and discharged to surface waters.

Since September, another two injection wells in Ohio have entered operations. There were another 16 that were either drilled or being drilled as of Dec. 7. ODNR shows those wells scattered from Central to Eastern Ohio. Coshocton, Athens and Trumbull counties in Eastern Ohio, however, led the state in oil and gas waste injection. 

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