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New EIA maps flesh out potential of gas-rich Utica Shale

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has rolled outnew structural and thickness maps for the prolific Utica Shale and itsunderlying Point Pleasant formation.

The maps describe not only the formation's structure as itextends from Ohio into West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York, but also itsdepths and thicknesses.

Depth and thickness are critical factors in making drillingdecisions, the EIA said May 2. "Temperature and pressure, which arefunctions of a formation's depth, are key factors in the amount of oil andnatural gas present in the formation," which drillers balance against theincreasing costs of an individual well the deeper it must be drilled.

"Like structure maps, isopach maps provide valuabledrilling information because thickness of the reservoir is a key factor indetermining whether, and where, to drill a well," the agency said.

The maps also show the location of Utica production wells.

The 60,000-square-mile Utica and the deeper Point Pleasantformation are largely stacked beneath the Marcellus Shale. by WestVirginia University's Appalachian Oil and Gas Research Coalition said the Uticacontains 782 Tcf of technically recoverable natural gas, making it larger thanthe overlying Marcellus Shale, where estimates range from 141 Tcf (EIA) to 600Tcf (ITG Investment Research, 2015).