Utica Shale Forecasted as America’s Next Big Energy Field
Oil and gas producers are looking to the Utica Shale for the future of American exploration and production. The rock lies more than a mile and a half below the earth’s surface and is believed to be one of the United States’ last untapped shales. The Utica spans over 170,000 square miles beneath eight states and Canada, but analysts have pin-pointed eastern Ohio as having the richest oil and natural gas reserves.
The large oil and gas producers are quickly moving into Ohio, with acquisitions and joint ventures skyrocketing in the region. ExxonMobil and Chesapeake Energy, the two largest natural gas producers, have locked up drilling rights in the shale and many other energy companies are following suit. The per-acre lease price in Ohio has more than doubled from what landowners were previously receiving for the right to drill on their property.
Collaboration between Ohio State University, Marietta College, Central Ohio Technical College, and Zane State College provided an analysis on the potential capital and gain for the state of Ohio. The study concluded that over the next five years, oil and gas producers will spend over $34 billion in exploration and development, pipelines, royalty payments to landowners, and leasing expenditures. The analysis also anticipates the Utica Shale will create an estimated 204,520 jobs over the next five years in Ohio.
However, some are uncertain of what exactly the Utica Shale holds. Many companies are saying that the Utica is geologically similar to the prolific Marcellus Shale, however, only 16 wells have been drilled so far for production. Even with the lack of current production, energy companies do not want to miss out on the investment opportunity and are quickly grabbing their piece of the Utica Shale.