COLUMBUS — Ohio geologists’ latest effort to map the best areas for Utica shale oil and gas production shows potential for an oil reservoir in central Ohio but now excludes areas near Cleveland and in southeast Ohio.
The head of the Ohio Geological Survey said the map is simply the state’s best guess at mapping core areas considered in the “play,” or where shale is expected to yield the most natural gas, oil and other resources. Of course, other areas could still be productive.
“That goes for the core area, too,” survey chief Larry Wickstrom said. “It doesn’t mean anywhere you go in the core area that you will have a really successful well.”
It could be important information as landowners look to cash in on the drilling in the Utica shale, where more than 50 Ohio wells have been drilled since 2009. That number is expected to skyrocket over the next few years.
The newest map indicates potential oil production in Delaware, Marion and Union counties. But it no longer includes most of Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain counties in northeast Ohio and some or all of Athens, Meigs, Morgan and Washington counties in southeast Ohio.
The changes to the map stemmed from tests of state-owned shale cores taken from drilling of old wells, and the map may change again if working shale wells provide more data about gas and oil production, Wickstrom said.
It’s likely that oil and gas companies have more specific information on the shale, but they aren’t required to share it with state officials, said Dale Arnold, energy policy director for the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation.
“These companies have done two-dimensional and three-dimensional seismic surveys, paying literally $40,000 per square mile,” Arnold said. “Their maps are much more accurate and very proprietary.”
The shale is tapped using the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which injects millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into the earth at high pressure to free resources such as propane, butane and ethane.