EIA releases new Utica play maps

Staff report


The U.S. Energy Information Administration has released three new maps of the Utica Shale play to show the structure, thickness and geologic setting of the play.

But a leader at the Ohio Oil and Gas Association says these maps aren’t really anything new.

Shawn Bennett, OOGA executive vice president, said the thickness numbers were tightened up, but that’s about it.

Companies would use these maps to look at the depth and thickness of the formation.

“This all kind of goes into when you are trying to decide where to pick up lease hold positions,” Bennett said.

The Utica spans about 60,000 square miles across Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. It includes the Utica formation and the deeper Point Pleasant formation, which are both favorable for the production of hydrocarbons, which are organic compounds consisting of hydrogen and carbon.

Production of oil and natural gas from the Utica play has increased since 2011, with more than 1,700 wells drilled as of January 2016, according to the EIA.

The Point Pleasant formation is deepest in the southwest region of Pennsylvania, reaching subsea depths of more than 13,000 feet, and it is shallowest at the junction of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky, according to the EIA. The Utica formation reaches subsea depths of up to 12,500 feet in a northeast arc though Pennsylvania and also is shallowest at the junction of Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. The most-productive wells in the Utica formation are found at subsea depths ranging from 5,000 to 11,000 feet.

The Utica formation is thickest in western Ohio and the northwest corner of Pennsylvania at 200 to 300 feet and thins to 50 feet or less in southern Ohio and northern Kentucky. The combined thickness of Utica and Point Pleasant is less than 100 feet in the area where Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky meet. The thickness reaches more than 300 feet in northwest and central Pennsylvania, and in Northeast and central Ohio.

Most producing wells are located where the formation has a thickness of 150 feet or more.

“Here in Ohio, everything is pretty much leased up,” Bennett said. “What you look at now is extending that Utica into Pennsylvania.”

Bennett said the state’s oil and gas industry is slow right now with the cost of both oil and natural gas at a consistent low. The state had 59 rigs at its peak and is down to 11.

“We are still reeling from the downturn,” Bennett said. “We are sitting here and waiting it out.”

To view the new maps, go to www.eia.gov.

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