Innovation Ohio – Fracking, Fairness, and the Future

February 2nd, 2012


Ohio’s oil and gas resources have caught the attention of drillers, investors and political leaders alike. Thanks to a process known as hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), and a move to horizontal drilling (as opposed to traditional vertical wells) oil and gas trapped deep under the surface can be extracted in sufficient volumes to make drilling in layers of shale deep below the ground economically feasible. Geologists estimate that the amount of natural gas trapped in the shale rock beneath Ohio could be enough to fuel the state for 21 years. viii Industry estimates place the size of the natural gas reserve at 20 trillion cubic feet. Similarly, the potential to recover oil from Ohio’s shale has drawn industry insiders to remark that the Utica shale may represent one of the biggest domestic oil finds in 40 years, with state estimates ranging as high as 5.5 billion barrels of oil. ix Ohio’s shale resources are trapped in two main geologic formations, the Marcellus and the Utica. Both span an area beneath several northeastern states, Lake Erie and southeastern Canada. The Marcellus was the first to capture the attention of oil and gas exploration companies, with most of the early focus on natural gas recovery from the Marcellus shale under Pennsylvania. More recently, companies have set their sights on Ohio’s Utica shale, located deeper below the earth than the Marcellus, but curving upward so steeply that under portions of Ohio, the shale is within 2000 feet of the surface, making the oil and gas trapped within the rock easier and cheaper to obtain. Ohio’s shale resources are also of interest because of early indications that it contains a mixture of natural gas, oil and other liquids, making drilling more economically worthwhile, even if natural gas prices continue to decline.”

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