CANTON, Ohio — Production of natural gas doubled from 2012 to 2013 in Ohio’s Utica shale and that was a first for the state, said James Zehringer, director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
This was announced at a "State of the Play" event at Stark College, which trains and educates oil and gas workers in the region (a targeted oil and gas formation, such as Utica, is known as a "play"). At the event several Ohio regulatory agencies told of their efforts to implement regulations and rules that are clear, concise and protect the state and its environment.
DNR released production data for 352 horizontal shale wells, most of which were drilled since 2010 and are largely in the eastern part of Ohio, but there is increasing activity in southern counties, Zehringer said.
"Ohio homes use an average of 280 billion cubic feet of natural gas each winter," he said. "Because of the Utica shale, Ohio now produces more than half the natural gas we need to keep our homes warm during the cold winter."
In 2013, all oil and gas wells in Ohio produced 8 million barrels of oil and 171 billion cubic feet of gas. The state’s total oil production increased by 62 percent and natural gas, by 97 percent, according to information furnished by DNR.
The Utica formation is primarily a gas formation – but a unique one, said Richard Simmers, DNR Division of Oil and Gas Resources management chief. The Utica gases usually have wet gas products associated with them. Some of the products include ethane, propane, butane and pentane – "What you use in your gas grills at home," he explained.
Because this is a new industry, in the past 24 months billions of dollars have been paid in eastern Ohio to install processing infrastructure, said David Mustine, JobsOhio senior managing director.
"In addition to what is happening on the midstream, JobsOhio is already focused on some 40 companies that make products that are used in drilling, completion and transportation," he said. "Some of the largest companies in the U.S. are investing billions of dollars in Ohio to develop the Utica shale."
Craig Butler, Ohio EPA director, said the agency has been finding flexible ways the oil and gas industry can comply with state and federal regulations, in a manner that allows them to do their production as soon as possible. Coordination with other state agency partners has been helpful; also, learning from other states.
"In 2014 we revised a general permit to allow for oil and gas well sites to come in and do their production and drill a well for a site," Butler said. "A general permit provides for flexibility for industry and insures environmental protection and human health. The consequence of using a general permit is that they can get a permit in a matter of a couple of weeks, versus several months."
Larry Flowers, state fire marshal, told the group his department had provided cutting-edge training tailored to the specific challenges of the oil and gas industry to more than 1,100 firefighters from more than 60 counties.