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EIA: Low crude prices keep Utica a shale gas play

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EIA: Low crude prices keep Utica a shale gas play

Low crude oil prices have had Utica Shale drillers targetingthe deeper, natural gas-rich, eastern portion of the play in the tri-state areaof Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, according to the U.S. EnergyInformation Administration.

As a result, the growth in gas production has far outpacedthe growth in oil production, the EIA said in its Sept. 23 "Today inEnergy" note. Crude oil production has increased by a factor of 17-times,from 4,400 barrels per day in December 2012 to June's 76,000 bbl/d, while gasproduction increased by 35 times to 3.5 Bcf/d over the same period, the EIAsaid.

"The rapid growth in Utica/Point Pleasant natural gasproduction since 2012 is attributable to increases in drilling efficiency,proximity to markets, improvements in business processes, resource targeting instacked plays, and the lengthening of horizontal laterals," EIA said."Relatively low oil prices and expansions in natural gas infrastructuremake the natural gas-rich portions of the reservoir more desirable fordevelopment, and therefore, increasingly the target for operators."

Because it takes a much higher temperature for gas to evolvefrom crude oil, gas deposits tend to located at roughly twice the depth ascrude deposits in the Utica, the EIA explained. The authors noted that the oilwindow in the Utica is 4,000 to 8,000 feet, while the gas window is 7,000 to12,000 feet.

A map of Utica wells shows most activity focused in easternOhio. National Fuel GasCo. and Shell OilCo. have had successful Utica wells in Tioga County, Pa., more than200 miles away from the eastern boundary of Utica drilling in Greene County,Pa., however.

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