Chesapeake Energy Corp. is reporting “strong initial production” from its first Utica Shale wells.

The Oklahoma-based company released results from four horizontal wells in the dry gas and wet gas windows of the play in southeastern Ohio and southwestern Pennsylvania. Chesapeake has finished drilling an additional eight wells into the play that have not yet been completed.

While the results are some of the first hard data after months of speculation, the information does not cover the oil window of the play that led Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon to tout the Utica as the most promising shale play in the country (see NGI, Sept. 26; Aug. 1).

Chesapeake said it is “in the early process of evaluating the oil phase of the play.”

Although the best well produced at three times the rate of the worst, Wunderlich Securities Inc. said “these wells are indeed in the same league as some of the best Eagle Ford wells, if not better.” The Marcellus directly above the Utica and is driving shale development in the region.

The Buell 10-11-5 8H well in Harrison County, OH, produced 3,010 boe/d, or 9.5 MMcf/d of natural gas and 1,425 b/d of liquids. Chesapeake drilled to a lateral length of 6,418 feet. The Mangun 22-15-5 8H in Carroll County, OH, north of Harrison, produced 1,530 boe/d, or 3.1 MMcf/d of natural gas and 1,015 b/d of liquids. Chesapeake drilled to a lateral length of 6,231 feet. The Neider 10-14-5 3H well, also in Carroll, produced 1,615 boe/d, or 3.8 MMcf/d of natural gas and 980 b/d of liquids. Chesapeake drilled to a lateral length of 4,152 feet. The Thompson 3H well in Beaver County, PA, some 50 miles due east of Carroll County, peaked at 6.4 MMcf/d. Chesapeake drilled that well to a lateral length of 4,322 feet.

Chesapeake said the production figures assume “maximum ethane recovery” but noted that for now it is processing wet gas from the three Ohio wells at a nearby processing facility “where ethane is currently being minimally recovered due to temporary market limitations.” The company said it is currently working on “multiple” projects to market its natural gas liquids.

Chesapeake estimated a drilling and completion cost of $5 million to $6 million per well.

The Utica is attracting major players and smaller operators, but Chesapeake apparently is the only company to have completed a horizontal well in the play to date (see NGI, Sept. 12). The company estimates that its 1.25 million acres cover some 40% of the “potential drillable acres in the core of the play.” Chesapeake is running five rigs in the Utica, but plans to double that by the end of the year, double the new level to 20 next year and double it again to 40 by 2014.

Chesapeake also said it recently hit an all-time production record of 6.1 Bcfe/d gross and 3.45 Bcfe/d net. The company is producing 95,000 b/d of liquids, but plans to up that to 150,000 b/d by the end of next year and 250,000 b/d by the end of 2015, while keeping natural gas production at current levels, a strategy driven by commodity prices (see NGI, Feb. 28).

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