BP plc plans to begin drilling the first of 10 appraisal wells in Trumbull County, OH, next April, but developing eastern Ohio’s portion of the Utica Shale may be hampered by a lack of pipeline infrastructure, officials said this week.

“Significant infrastructure is going to be required to bring the initial products to market,” said BP Ohio Program Manager Bruce Abbuhl, according to Warren, OH’s Tribune Chronicle. “The limited infrastructure will quickly outpace the development.”

According to reports, BP plans to drill the first appraisal well on a 500-acre parcel on the east side of Mosquito Creek Lake.

BP Ohio Operations Manager Joe Uppercue told the Youngstown Business Journal that the company “would have to look to expand the existing infrastructure to be able to handle and manage the amount of production that would be brought to the surface. That would probably require a midstream partner that would transport and process the natural gas and natural gas liquids [NGL].”

However, the BP officials downplayed what’s ahead because BP hasn’t drilled any appraisal wells yet.

“The purpose of the those 10 [wells] is to test the subsurface, look at the test data and determine what type of liquids potential we have here along with [dry] gas to better understand what our development program will look like going forward,” Abbuhl told reporters. “We wanted to test across Trumbull County so we have a full understanding of the potential for the Utica play here.” Seismic testing already has been completed but the results aren’t expected until February or March.

Last March BP gained entry to the Utica Shale by acquiring 84,000 acres for $331 million in Trumbull County from the Associated Landowners of the Ohio Valley (ALOV). The cost equated to $3,900/acre and with a 17.5% production royalty (see Shale Daily, March 28). Last summer BP CEO Bob Dudley was in Ohio and said then the producer was interested in possibly expanding its holdings in the play (see Shale Daily, Aug. 1).

The press conference was held at BP’s new Utica operations center in the Youngstown Commerce Park in North Jackson, OH, an unincorporated community in Jackson Township, Mahoning County. The company is reportedly leasing 5,000 square feet of office space and 36,000 square feet of warehouse space for its operations.