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ODNR Reports Uptick in Utica Oil, Wet Gas Production

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) reported a drastic improvement in horizontal well production data on Tuesday, showing a major bump in third quarter wet gas and oil production in the Utica Shale after largely disappointing figures on 2012 production it released under old annual reporting requirements in May.

During the third quarter, 245 Utica shale wells produced 1.34 million bbl of oil and 33.6 Bcf of natural gas. Ohio law does not require the separate reporting of natural gas liquids (NGL) and the volume of NGLs produced in the state was included in the cumulative natural gas total for the quarter.

After a push from investors, members of the agency itself and other stakeholders, ODNR will now release quarterly production reports instead of annual reports. Lawmakers passed the provision as part of the state's biennial budget in July, requiring operators to submit data up to 45 days after the conclusion of each quarter (see Shale Daily, Dec. 2, 2013). The rule change went into effect at the end of 3Q2013, and data from the first two quarters of the year will be released under the old annual reporting requirements. The agency has said it expects to make 4Q2013 production data available in February.

Unlike the agency's last report, released in May, which included only 85 wells that produced 636,000 bbl of oil and 12.84 Bcf of natural gas (see Shale Daily, May 17, 2013), Tuesday's report included far more wells, 285, with 40 awaiting pipeline connections. Overall, the results should have financial analysts and other industry-watchers in the state more bullish on the Utica's prospects, especially as more wells come online and production is only expected to increase.

Excitement has been building around the Utica's potential, even since ODNR's May report had many disappointed with its relatively dry results. The state surpassed 1,000 horizontal drilling permits in November (see Shale Daily, Dec. 6, 2013), and as of Tuesday 1,033 permits had been issued, 661 wells had been drilled, and 249 wells were commercially producing.

ODNR said the average amount of oil produced at each of the 245 wells in its report was 5,439 bbl, with natural gas production averaging 137.17 MMcf. The average number of days in production was 55.

The highest producing oil well was Gulfport Energy Corp.'s Boy Scout well in Harrison County, producing 41,617 bbl during 70 days of production. The highest producing gas well also belonged to Gulfport, with its Stutzman well in Belmont County producing 1.25 Bcf during 89 days of production.

Those wells are located in the southeast part of the state, where operators are concentrating on what they've identified as the play's sweet spot (see Shale Daily, Nov. 19, 2013). Gulfport's acreage has been viewed by many as some of the best in the Utica Shale.

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