The first glimpse of Utica Shale productivity in Ohio makes two things clear: Chesapeake Energy Corp. is leading the way and it is producing a fair amount of natural gas.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) released 2011 production figures for the Utica Shale last week, listing the quantities of oil, gas and brine production for nine wells drilled into the play last year, all by Chesapeake (see NGI, Oct. 3, 2011).

According to state officials, drilling to date largely is focused on the edge of the gas window of the play, but the ODNR said the shale play appears to be liquids-prone, with reserves potential estimated at 1.3-5.5 billion bbl of oil and 3.8-15.7 Tcf of gas (see related story).

The Oklahoma City-based operator produced more than 2.5 Bcf of gas from five wells, which regulators described as being a “significant” volume, especially considering that production is constrained by pipeline and market capacity. The figure includes both wet and dry gas volumes. Chesapeake also produced about 46,326 bbl of oil from the five wells, in addition to smaller volumes from four other wells not currently in production.

“One can conservatively estimate the potential for these wells was more than what was reported simply because the operator may not be extracting minerals from these wells at their true capacity,” ODNR communications officer Carlo LoParo told NGI. The ODNR described the oil production as “lower than estimated, but higher than conventional wells.”

Of the nine wells listed in the ODNR’s report, five are currently in commercial production.

The shining star of the group was the Kenneth Buell 8H well, the only well in Harrison County. The well produced more than 1.5 Bcf over 198 production days in 2011, or 7.7 MMcf/d on average. By itself, the Buell 8H unconventional well accounted for roughly 2% of the state’s total gas production from around 49,000 conventional wells last year.

By comparison, last year the top producing well in the Marcellus Shale — the shale formation directly above the Utica/Point Pleasant Shale — was Cabot Oil & Gas Corp.’s King 2 well in Susquehanna County, PA, which produced on average 16.5 MMcf/d.

The Buell 8H well also produced 13,472 bbl of oil, according to ODNR. Initially the well produced 3,010 boe/d, or 9.5 MMcf/d of gas and 1,425 b/d of liquids.

The other four producing wells in ODNR’s report were all in Carroll County. The next most productive well of the group, which produced at less than half the rate of the Buell 8H well, was the Neider 3H well, whose output averaged around 395 MMcf over 130 days last year, or nearly 3 MMcf/d. The well also produced 9,444 bbl of oil.

The Calvin Mangun 8H well, drilled to a lateral length of 6,231 feet, last year produced around 322 MMcf over 206 days, or around 1.5 MMcf/d, making it the least productive well in the bunch. The 8H well also produced 12,334 bbl of oil, although commercial oil production from the well did not begin until late July, according to the ODNR. ODNR noted that the first figures from two wells, came late in the year. The Bucey 3H well produced 137 MMcf, or almost 2.6 MMcf/d, and 2,167 bbl of oil over 53 days. The Harvey 8H well produced 183 MMcf, or nearly 2 MMcf/d, and 6,096 bbl of oil over 92 days.

Combined, Chesapeake’s nine wells produced 76,004 barrels of brine last year, an amount that is “relatively low and will likely diminish over time,” said ODNR.

With an estimated 1.21 million net acres, Chesapeake is the largest leaseholder in the Ohio Utica/Point Pleasant, followed by EnerVest (760,000 net acres), Chevron Corp. (600,000 net acres), Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (240,000 net acres) and Devon Energy Corp. (235,000 net acres). BP plc also entered the play last month (see NGI, April 2).

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