2013 ends with more than twice as many shale drilling permits issued for the Utica Shale play than first expected, encouraging news for Ohio backers of natural gas exploration and production.
Earlier this year, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources projected 525 permits for shale drilling. That would’ve been a modest increase from 2012’s total of 376, but now in its most recent report, the state DNR shows 1015 permits issued to 30 companies since 2009, operating in much of eastern Ohio.
“Crossing that thousand-permit threshold is pretty exciting," says Mike Chadsey, who heads public relations for the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, or OOGA. He says the higher-than-expected increase shows great interest in exploring gas and oil reserves in the state. “2014’s going to be the year that will really tell us what this Utica Play’s going to do. That’s when our processing facilities’ gonna come online. We’re going to flip the switch, and actually see what these wells they have drilled, what kind of production we’re going to get out of them.”
There’s also activity in the Marcellus Shale area, though there’s much less of it underneath Ohio than the Utica. This year’s permits to drill in the Marcellus number only 35.