|Utica ShaleThe Utica Shale is an ‘Older Brother’ of the Marcellus Shale
|Throughout the early years of Marcellus Shale development, there were rumblings of ‘deeper oil and gas reserves’ below the Marcellus layer. People heard talk of the Trenton Black River and Point Pleasant formations, yet by 2012, most of the rumblings had turned almost exclusively to the Utica Shale. The Utica is approximately 70-million-years older than the Marcellus — 470 million years old vs. 400 million years old — as we see on the North America shale gas plays web page.
|In early October 2012, the United States Geological Service (USGS) released its first assessment of the amount of shale gas resources in the Utica Shale, along with a map showing the location of oil and gas assessment units (AU) in the Appalachian Basin. USGS estimates the Utica Shale contains 38 TCF of natural gas, 940 MMB of oil and 9 MMB of natural gas liquids. Those numbers mean: 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, 940 million barrels of oil and 9 million barrels of natural gas liquids such as ethane, propane and butane.
Scio Ohio midstream fractionation plant
construction In Harrison County
|As prices for ‘dry’ natural gas (methane) fell in excess of 75% from the early Marcellus Shale production years, the location and value of ‘wet’ gas liquids came more into focus for exploration and production (E&P) companies who wished to remain profitable. Some E&P companies indicated they couldn’t continue to produce methane (dry natural gas) if the price remained at 2012 levels (under $3.00).Prices sank further in 2015 and 2016 to under $2.00 on Henry’s Hub, as the rig count dropped to new all-time lows and all drilling ceased on the Barnett Shale in early-2016.These low prices created a new leasing focus and production move from dry areas of the Marcellus Shale to the wetter areas, primarily around the tri-state area of southwestern Pennsylvania, southeastern Ohio and the panhandle of West Virginia. Eastern Ohio was the focal point for most of the Utica Shale ‘buzz’ in 2012. By 2016 most of the Utica drilling rigs were in the southern portion of eastern Ohio.
Eastern Ohio gas well
|Pa. studying link between fracking, Lawrence County earthquakesApril 29, 2016
By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThe U.S. Geological Survey says five minor earthquakes originated in an area just west of New Castle in a 22-hour period on Monday, all small tremors between magnitude 1.7 and 1.9, which is below what humans can feel. The timing and proximity of the Lawrence County earthquakes — originally the geological survey had identified just two — suggest a link to a nearby natural gas fracking operation, but seismologists were being cautious Thursday, saying it is too early to tell definitively if fracking triggered the quakes.The PA DEP and DCNR are investigating whether the quakes are associated with hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, the natural gas extraction technique that was ongoing at a Hilcorp Energy Co. well pad about a mile from the closest earthquake. Hilcorp shut down its operations at the site at noon on Monday.A DEP spokeswoman said Wednesday that the wells that were being fracked have horizontal wellbores headed northwest from the pad, which is the general direction of the closest earthquakes. The wells are targeting the Utica Shale and Point Pleasant formation, gas-rich layers that can lie a mile deeper than the better known Marcellus Shale. Earthquakes with a magnitude up to 3.0 in Mahoning County, Ohio, were linked to fracking at a Utica Shale well operated by Hilcorp in 2014. That earthquake series was about four miles west of this week’s quakes in Lawrence County.Full story
Utica Shale gas processing at Natrium, WV
The expanding play for more valuable natural gas liquids has revealed itself in the plans of many oil and gas companies, midstream companies and pipeliners, with talk and construction of ethane crackers by companies like Royal Dutch Shell, more cryogenic plants west of Pittsburgh in Washington County, Pa and more pipelines to move gas liquids out of the Marcellus and Utica Shale areas to Marcus Hook on the East Coast, facilities on the Gulf Coast and north to Canada.