Gastar Exploration Inc. said Monday it had reached a total depth of 11,410 feet at its first Utica Shale well in West Virginia, adding that the information it has gathered thus far about the formation is meeting the company’s expectations.

The update on the Simms 5-UH in Marshall County is the second Gastar has issued in a week (see Shale Daily, June 10) as interest continues to grow in what operators have to say about a series of the earliest Utica wells being drilled in West Virginia (see Shale Daily, March 26).

Gastar said it encountered 92 feet of pay in the Point Pleasant formation. The company expects formation pressures to be approximately 9,400 psi upon completion, which would put the well in line with some of the better Utica wells in southeast Ohio, where operators are reporting increasing initial production rates (see Shale Daily, April 15).

“These results have confirmed our expectations regarding the Utica/Point Pleasant formation,” said CEO J. Russell Porter. “As a result of this information, and the Utica/Point Pleasant results reported by other nearby operators, we are planning to move forward with a program that should rapidly de-risk this asset and add substantial net asset value to Gastar.”

Magnum Hunter Resources Corp., Antero Resources Corp. and Chevron Appalachia LLC are working on, or have drilled a Utica well in West Virginia (see Shale Daily, May 16), but no operator has publically released test results from those wells. Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Stone Energy Corp. also have permitted Utica wells in the state.

Gastar said it is currently plugging back the Simms 5-UH in order to drill a 4,200 foot lateral in the Point Pleasant. After the horizontal section is finished, the company plans to complete the well with 23 hydraulic fracturing stages. Production is expected to begin in August.