Belmont and Monroe counties continued to dominate Ohio's Utica Shale production in the first quarter, with wells in the play's sweet spot there accounting for much of the increase in the state's natural gas production, according to data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Belmont County continued to lead the way, as it has in recent quarters. Operators there reported producing 99.2 Bcf of natural gas in the first quarter, up from 85.8 Bcf in 4Q2015. First quarter production in Monroe County, the state's second highest producing county, was up to 63.3 Bcf from 49.3 Bcf in the fourth quarter (see Shale DailyMarch 11). Carroll County remained the state's No. 3 county with 56.7 Bcf of natural gas produced, which was down from 59.4 Bcf in the fourth quarter, when it was the second highest.

ODNR reported record natural gas production in the first quarter of 329.5 Bcf, up from 303 Bcf in 4Q15 and 183.6 Bcf in 1Q2015 (see Shale DailyJune 20).

Oil volumes fell 12.3% sequentially, going from about 6.2 million bbl of oil in the fourth quarter to 5.5 million bbl in the first quarter, reflecting a shift to the state's drier acreage in places such as Belmont and Monroe, where low breakeven prices, better infrastructure and prolific wells have been favored during the downturn. It was the first time oil production has declined since ODNR began tracking quarterly production data in 2014.

The state's top-three oil-producing counties were Harrison, Carroll and Guernsey, respectively, which combined to account for 4.7 million bbl during the period. Those counties led in oil production during the fourth quarter, too. The state's leading drillers also remained unchanged and were Chesapeake Energy Corp. (608 wells), Gulfport Energy Corp. (180 wells) and Antero Resources Corp. (129 wells).

The state's top-producing natural gas well was once again Rice Energy Inc.'s Mohawk Warrior 12H in Belmont County, which reported 1.6 Bcf during the period. Two other wells on that pad rounded out the state's three leading gas-producing wells. The top oil well was Antero Resources Hall Unit 1H in Noble County, which produced 57,160 bbl during the quarter.

Carroll, Harrison, Belmont, Monroe and Noble were the top-five counties respectively for wells drilled, accounting for a combined 1,110. At the end of last week, there were 2,183 Utica wells permitted in the state and 1,751 drilled, according to ODNR's latest figures.