The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) plans to unveil a map that outlines economically viable areas of the state’s portion of the Utica/Point Pleasant Shale by late September, which could provide oil and natural gas operators with a valuable tool to use for future exploration.

Mac Swinford, chief of the ODNR’s Division of Geological Survey, told NGI’s Shale Daily that the new map would expound upon the original version published in March.

“We have some new geochemical data to plot on the map,” Swinford said Tuesday. “It will be a page-sized map of the entire state. It’s more of a regional study; that’s all the data really allows.”

Swinford said operators have been drilling vertical holes across the state to assist with the ODNR’s mapping project. Geochemical data has been collected from a warehouse of cuttings and core samples, with various labs then analyzing the information for the agency.

“The one thing I was pleased to see is that the general trends are holding up,” Swinford said when asked if anything stood out between the two maps. “But as more detail, more data, is added to the map, the lines aren’t broad, sweeping curves; they’re having more undulations to them. Overall, the trends are holding up just as we had expected. I’m pleased to see our first guess at the maps turned out to be good with the data that we had. The maps are only going to get better.”

The division’s map from March showed a C-shaped line running across the state, with what the state believes to be the core area for natural gas deposits lying east of the line. Starting in Lake County, along the coast of Lake Erie, the line makes a gentle curve to the west around Cuyahoga County and continues westbound to Huron County, where it then heads south toward Madison County before turning back east. The line ends in Washington County, along the border with West Virginia.

Under the previous map, most of Geauga, Summit, Medina, Huron, Crawford, Marion, Union, Franklin, Fairfield, Muskingum and Washington counties were east of the line, in the core area of the Utica/Point Pleasant.

“I’ve said before that it’s kind of a ‘wiggly’ line,” Swinford said. “As more data is placed on the map, the lines are bound by the hard data points and become more undulate. We’re talking about the ‘mature-immature line,’ which is very general. But the new maps will pretty much hold up where we thought the zone is in central Ohio.”

Meanwhile, Chevron Corp. said it plans to drill its first test wells targeting the Utica in September.

According to the ODNR, Chevron Appalachia LLC has permits to drill two horizontal wells in Washington Township in Harrison County. Kinsey 2-24 HD and Kinsey 1-24 HD were issued permits on July 31 and Aug. 2, respectively.

Lee Ann Wainwright, a spokeswoman for Chevron’s Appalachian/Michigan Strategic Business Unit (AMBU), reportedly declined to say when drilling would actually begin at the Kinsey wells, but she added that the company is “completely committed to safety, so we’ll take our time and do it right.” According to Chevron’s website, AMBU has 623,000 net acres in the Utica.

ODNR data shows that as of Aug. 13, Harrison County had 28 permits issued for oil and gas drilling in the Utica, making it the third-highest county in terms of permits behind Carroll (124) and Columbiana (48) counties. Eighteen of the Harrison County permits were issued to Chesapeake Exploration LLC. Gulfport Energy Corp. and Hess Ohio Development LLC each have four permits.