AKRON - Three energy companies drilling for gas and oil along Ohio's Utica Shale say they're seeing positive results on their wells' production numbers as another company describes a less favorable outcome, a newspaper reported.
Three energy companies - Gulfport Energy Corp., Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Antero Resources Corp. - called their production results from drilling in eastern parts of the state positive, the Akron Beacon Journal reported.
Heidi Hetzel-Evans of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources said figures show the exploratory nature of the Utica Play, but they are not the same as the official filings the companies will submit to ODNR in March 2013.
Oklahoma City-based Gulfport Energy said its second-quarter earnings report released Tuesday showed one well in Harrison County was producing 17.1 million cubic feet of natural gas per day at its peak, including more than 430 barrels of oil and more than 1,880 barrels of natural gas liquids.
Gulfport CEO James Palm said in a conference call the company was also pleased with results from three other wells in eastern counties. He said Gulfport plans to drill 200 wells in Ohio in the next four years.
In its quarterly earnings report, Chesapeake Energy, also in Oklahoma City, said its 28 operational wells were averaging daily about 3.8 million cubic feet of natural gas, 205 barrels of oil and 150 barrels of natural gas liquids. Chesapeake has leased 1.3 million acres in Ohio for drilling.
In the company's second quarter conference call, CEO Aubrey McClendon told investors and associates that the Utica Shale will have an advantage over Chesapeake's most active play, the Eagle Ford Shale, in that Utica will be shallower and less expensive. McClendon also said in that call that about half of Chesapeake's leasehold spending in 2012 is targeted for the Utica.
Carroll and Columbiana Counties remain the company's strongest holds in the region and McClendon implied any new activity for the time being would likely occur there. He said he expects successful leasehold sales in the Utica, especially considering Chesapeake's "first mover status" brings other companies seeking to establish positions.
Denver, Colo.-based Antero Resources, which has at least two wells in eastern Ohio, did not release specific data but the company called its results "encouraging" based on its production of natural gas liquids.
Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy Corp. reported to analysts last week that two wells in northern Ohio produced results that were not encouraging. But Devon officials said they're optimistic results from another well, closer to central Ohio in Knox County's Morgan Township, will offer better results.
"It's very early on, and we're moving slowly and methodically," said Devon spokesman Chip Minty. "There's not a lot of information, and we're learning a lot as we go."
The company has plans to drill five new wells farther east.
Drilling has boomed in Ohio, Pennsylvania and other shale states in the past few years with the help of new horizontal drilling techniques. Analysts say much of the Utica Shale has not yet been explored.
Hetzel-Evans echoed that sentiment.
"It looks like it was for investment purposes. The company will release information the state has not seen yet," she said. "Certainly the operators' early production results are good examples of how Ohio is still in the exploratory stages of this play.
''It really will take another year or two before we'll have a good picture of the Utica-Point Pleasant Shale Play. Operators are still drilling wells to determine the best areas for production.''