Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. said Friday it has dropped a drillbit into its first Utica Shale horizontal target in Ohio’s northern Washington County.

The well is being tapped from the Farley pad, designed for four wells, which is owned and operated by subsidiary Triad Hunter LLC; the project was launched in January (see Shale Daily, Jan. 23). The development plan is to first drill a vertical pilot hole for logging and core analysis, and then to plug back and drill a 6,000-foot-plus lateral in the Point Pleasant portion of the Utica. The well then would be fracture stimulated and tested this summer.

“While this new well currently drilling represents our first horizontal Utica Shale test in Ohio, we have three other horizontal wells already drilled in the Marcellus formation located nearby in Monroe County, OH, two of which are waiting on fracture stimulation and new pipeline installation by our midstream affiliate, Eureka Hunter,” said CEO Gary C. Evans.

The Monroe County development is a joint venture with Eclipse Resources I LP on 1,950 net acres that have Marcellus and Utica targets (see Shale Daily, Jan. 3). The partners plan to drill 12 horizontals each in the Marcellus and Utica shales over the next three years.

“Having the opportunity of possessing two significant production horizons at one location is unique in this region,” said Evans. “The down hole log interpretations of these two new wells, which indicate a very high liquids content, is most encouraging.”

Triad Hunter has mineral rights on close to 88,000 gross acres (79,000 net) of Utica potential in Ohio and West Virginia, with a large portion held by existing production.

“Based on offset well results and industry analysis, we believe approximately one-half of our existing acreage position is located in the wet gas window of this emerging play,” said Evans. “We continue to assemble mineral acreage in the region to increase our inventory and foothold position.”

In addition to the Utica and Marcellus, the Houston operator works in three other unconventional U.S. plays: the Pearsall Shale and the Williston Basin/Bakken Shale.