News Column

Natural Gas Production Booms on Utica Shale

November 7, 2013

Bob Downing, The Akron Beacon Journal

utica shale
Utica shale formation (Michael C. Rygel, Creative Commons)

Nov. 07--Natural gas production from Ohio's Utica shale is starting to boom, according to the reshaped and trimmer Chesapeake Energy Corp.

Natural gas production in the Utica shale grew 91 percent from the second quarter of 2013 to the third quarter, the company said Wednesday in a third-quarter earnings and production call with analysts.

The company's Utica wells are averaging 164 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalent per day, the company said.

"We anticipate our growth [in 2014] will be led by an increase in oil production from the Eagle Ford shale and an increase in natural gas and natural gas liquids from the Utica and Marcellus shales, which will benefit from new gas processing and pipeline takeaway capacity," said company Chief Executive Officer Doug Lawler.

Chesapeake is the No. 1 player in Ohio's Utica shale.

To date, the Oklahoma energy giant has drilled 377 wells in the Utica shale that covers eastern Ohio and spills over into western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. That includes 169 producing wells and 208 wells waiting on pipeline connections or in various stages of completion.

In the third quarter, Chesapeake operated 11 drilling rigs in the Utica shale and connected 63 wells to sales, it reported.

The average peak daily production for those 63 wells was about 6.6 million cubic feet of natural gas equivalents per day, the company said.

Chesapeake has encountered minor problems in Ohio since Blue Racer Midstream's gas-processing plant in Natrium, W.Va., was closed by a Sept. 21 fire, Lawler said. But that closure should not have a major long-term impact, he said.

The company made no announcement on what are called noncore lease holdings in Ohio and elsewhere that Chesapeake is offering for sale. That includes 510,847 gross acres (337,481 net acres) in 19 Ohio counties including Summit, Portage, Stark and Wayne.

Nationwide, Chesapeake's daily average production totaled 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 178,500 barrels of liquids (oil and natural gas liquids). Oil production was up 4 percent and natural gas liquids increased 12 percent over the previous quarter. Natural gas production dropped 3 percent in that time.

The company operated 67 rigs and invested $1.2 billion in the third quarter in drilling and completion activities. That is a drop of $350 million from the second quarter.

Chesapeake is in the midst of redefining itself and has trimmed 20 percent of its exploration-production workforce. It has scaled back some drilling operations and expenditures.

Financial discipline and operational efficiencies are the company's new keywords, Lawler said.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.

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(c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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Original headline: Chesapeake Energy reports natural gas production is starting to climb in Ohio's Utica shale


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Source: (c)2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)