Drilling in Ohio's Utica Shale
In the last three years, the Utica Shale of eastern Ohio has gone from an underappreciated rock unit to
one of the most valuable oil and gas drilling targets in North America. In that short time, drilling
permits have been issued for over 1000 horizontal wells, and many of those wells are already producing
millions of dollars worth of crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids per month.
Although people in eastern Ohio occasionally see drilling activity at the surface, it is just temporary evidence of the
enormous level of development that is occurring below. Each of the drill pads constructed at the surface
has one or more vertical wells, and each vertical well usually has a horizontal leg that can travel
laterally - away from the well site - for one to two miles underground. These horizontal legs are where the hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas production occur.
Geographic Pattern of Drilling
One purpose of this map is to show the geographic distribution of well sites at the surface
(shown by red push pins). Another is to show the companies who permitted the wells (visible if you
move your mouse over the push pins). And a third is to show the API number that can be used to
obtain more information about the well from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of
Oil and Gas Resources website.
The most important purpose of this map is to show the direction, extent, and geographic
pattern of horizontal drilling activity beneath eastern Ohio. The horizontal portion of each
well is shown as a thin red line that begins at each push pin and travels up to two miles horizontally
away from where the well was drilled.
This is the portion of the well that is hidden from surface view. Very few people know where these
horizontal wells travel, and even experienced geologists are surprised when they see the geographic
pattern produced by many wells.
These horizontal legs are stimulated by hydraulic fracturing to optimize yield. Once a person
understands that the well is drilled through up to two miles of Utica Shale "pay zone," it is much easier to
understand how one small-diameter well can yield such high volumes of oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids.
About the Wells Shown on the Map
The wells shown on this map represent drilling activity that occurred before late November of 2013.
It does not include wells that were permitted but not yet drilled.
We hope that this map helps visitors understand where drilling activity has occurred, where rocks have potentially
been stimulated by hydraulic fracturing, and where the fossil fuels extracted from each well site are coming from.
This map was developed using public access data published by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of
Oil and Gas Resources. Their website contains a wealth of information on oil and gas drilling in Ohio, including
a record of permitting activity, drilling activity, active rigs, oil and gas law, and numerous FAQs. Please visit the
ODNR Oil and Gas Resources website for this additional information.
Find it on Geology.com
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|A satellite view of a Utica Shale drilling site where nine horizontal wells have been constructed. Clicking on the push pin pops up a window that shows the company who received the drilling permit, the API number of the well and the date that the permit was issued. If we zoomed in closer we would see that each horizontal well has a separate push pin.|
|A Utica Shale drilling pad that, at the time the data for this map was acquired, had produced three horizontal wells. |
|Drilling activity is extremely dense in some parts of the Utica Shale.|