Ohio's stake in the oil and gas industry

2:44 PM, Nov 1, 2012   |    comments
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To understand what's at stake in Ohio when it comes to oil and gas exploration, you have to understand why Ohio is so attractive to energy companies.

The answer lies thousands of feet below the ground we walk on.

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It's no secret that Ohio is rich in natural gas and oil. Throughout the state, there are more than 60,000 active conventional wells that tap into pools of oil and gas about a thousand feet down.

Since the 1950's, hydraulic fracturing has been used for this type of oil and gas production.

But drilling technology has evolved and today companies are using a combination of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to access shale five to eight thousand feet below the surface.

"The reason Ohio is at the epicenter of this right now is simply because of the geology," explains Ohio State University Extension Educator Mike Hogan.

Ohio sits atop the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, which are getting much of the industry's attention these days.

"This line where the Marcellus and the Utica meet seems to be what the industry calls the 'sweet spot,'" he says.

Horitzontal drilling now allows companies to make contact with that shale, once thought impossible to reach.

To do so, millions of gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals are pumped underground to break apart rock. A drill then goes about a mile down and branches out horizontally another mile.

Small fractures free gas and oil trapped inside shale, which then flows back up to the surface.

"Being able to fracture out a mile is an incredible science," says Rhonda Reda, executive director of the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program.

What energy companies find when they drill is highly profitable. In fact, five of the largest publicly-traded energy companies are now invested in Ohio -- Chesapeake, Shell, Hess, Exxon Mobil and BP.

"Energy companies that were drilling in Pennsylvania in the Marcellus...they're actually pulling up rigs and moving them to Ohio as we speak, to take advantage of the increased profitability," says Hogan.

Database of Ohio wells and permits


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