Newly released data from Cleveland State University’s (CSU) Energy Policy Center shows that investments in Ohio’s Utica Shale have reached $74 billion since 2011, when the first unconventional commercial production was reported and the school began tracking the play’s economic impacts.
The latest data tallied investments from January-June 2018 for the fifth study in a series prepared by CSU for JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development organization. Researchers found that investment in Ohio’s upstream, midstream and downstream sectors was $4.6 billion during the first half of last year.
Upstream activities, including drilling-related expenses and royalties, accounted for the bulk of investments at $3.4 billion. Ohio’s unconventional natural gas production exceeded 2 Tcf for the first time last year. More than 3,000 horizontal Utica wells have been permitted and 2,574 have been drilled to date, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.
The latest data comes as producers in Appalachia and elsewhere have signaled their intent to cut spending and reduce some activity as the outlook for gas prices and demand has weakened.
Midstream operators invested more than $505 million in the state during the first six months of 2018 on pipelines, processing plants and storage, according to CSU. Nearly $400 million was spent to start construction on processing plants. The period saw more limited investment in transmission lines as the Appalachian pipeline boom has slowed with major projects like the Nexus Gas Transmission system and Rover Pipeline coming online in Ohio.
Progress was also underway on the development of several downstream assets during the first half of 2018, CSU said, including natural gas-fired power plants, a compressed natural gas fueling station in Columbus and manufacturing facilities that would use more natural gas. Downstream investments reached $718.5 million. CSU added that the gas-fired facilities were not included in the investment numbers as permitting was underway, but none had yet to start construction during the period covered.
An abundance of low-cost gas in the region has sparked a wave of construction on gas-fired power plants throughout the Appalachian Basin, some of which have already entered service. In Ohio alone, gas-fired generators have invested $11 billion to build more than 11,000 MW of capacity, according to the Ohio Independent Power Producers.
Indirect investments, like those for new manufacturing projects in the state as a result of lower energy costs, were not included in CSU’s study.