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Push for Utica Shale dry gas drives sharp gains in Ohio production

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Push for Utica Shale dry gas drives sharp gains in Ohio production

Ohio's shale gas production increased rapidly in the third quarter, with Gulfport Energy Corp.'s and Ascent Resources' operations in the dry gas counties of Belmont and Monroe accounting for much of the gains.

Statewide, Ohio's unconventional gas production topped 5 Bcf/d, a 27% increase over a year earlier and a 17% increase over the previous quarter, according to Department of Natural Resources data. Belmont and Monroe counties, across the Ohio River from West Virginia's northern panhandle, added new pipeline capacity outbound from the shale with the opening of phase one of Energy Transfer Partners LP's Rover pipeline during the third quarter.

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Jefferson County, also in the dry gas window along the Ohio River, saw its production more than triple over the third quarter of 2016, driven largely due to Utica shale pioneer Chesapeake Energy Corp.'s drilling. Reversing months of gentle declines, Chesapeake's Ohio shale production increased 18% over the second quarter of 2017, according to the data, shaving its year-over-year decline from 27% in the second quarter to 9% in the in the third.

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Another big production gainer was Rice Energy Inc., which merged with EQT Corp. on Nov. 13. EQT halted its own Utica drilling, still in the experimental stage, earlier in 2017, but it plans on the Rice wells and rigs staying active in Ohio. Rice's 613 MMcf/d of production marked a 75% increase over the same period in 2016 and a 52% increase over the second quarter.

Carroll and Harrison counties, in the wet gas window to the west of Jefferson County, continued to see declines in dry gas production, a trend they have experienced in 2017 while benefiting from improvements in oil and liquids prices. Oil and liquids made up 20% of Harrison County's production on a gas-equivalent basis, while Carroll County liquids accounted for 15% of total production.

The top three Utica gas wells in the state were all Ascent Resource wells in Belmont County, led by the Sidwell 6H in Wheeling Township, which averaged more than 25,000 Mcf/d of gas production for the full quarter.