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2014 Was a Year of Big Growth for Ohio's Oil and Gas Industry

This was a year of big growth, in Ohio shale production and drilling.

Jim Samuel, a Columbus consultant, said at the start of 2014, there were around 650 shale wells concentrated in the eastern part of the state, whereas now, "We’re starting the year at about 1,300 wells. So in one year, we’ve doubled the number of horizontal shale wells in the state of Ohio."

Samuel said he expects continued growth, but the pace may slow as a result of falling oil prices.

Shawn Bennett, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, agreed. He thinks the price drop will be a temporary speed bump.

Bennett said overall, investments in processing facilities and pipelines over the last year show the industry is maturing.

"They started moving from that exploration phase and a little bit more into the development phase, and you’re going to see that continue as we move into 2015," he said.

That development is moving south and east, into Noble and Washington counties.

Earthquakes in Youngstown in March led the state to acknowledge a link with drilling and fracking, and to increase seismic monitoring.

That, along with a case of illegal waste dumping, prompted further protest of the controversial extraction method.

Two policy issues on the industry’s radar for 2015 include a potential increase in the state severance tax, and a court ruling on local governments’ authority to regulate development.