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Ohio’s gas biz booming; regulators trying to ease process for industry

Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 4:15 PM

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The Harrison Hub complex, near the village of Scio, processes natural gas from horizontal shale wells in eastern Ohio.

2013 was a huge year for oil and gas development in Ohio. The state released data today showing just how huge. ideastream’s Joanna Richards reports.

The enormous growth is due mostly to the new horizontal wells being drilled deep into eastern Ohio’s shale formations through the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

In the state’s major formation, the Utica shale, oil production rose 470 percent from 2012 to 2013. And gas production rose 680 percent, according to data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Not only has the number of Utica wells almost quadrupled, production per well is up, too. Rick Simmers, chief of ODNR’s oil and gas division, said it used to take companies around a month to drill a 14,000-foot well.

“Now it’s taking the companies somewhere in the neighborhood of about 15 days to drill about a 17,000 foot well. So the wells are a little longer than they were before, but they’re drilled in less than half the time.”

Simmers spoke at a presentation that included regulators and economic development officials in North Canton. The regulators from ODNR and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency stressed that they’re streamlining their permitting processes to try to facilitate the industry’s rapid growth.

The officials also noted that a leveling off of production in the third quarter of 2013 was mostly due to processing capacity lagging behind well development. As more facilities came on line to process natural gas, production picked back up.

The officials said that trend of processing investments would continue in 2014.

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