Ohio Energy 101
A Look Back
No state in the nation produced more oil at the turn of the 20th century than Ohio, a status to which it would lay claim from 1895 to 1903. But actually, the history of energy development in Ohio extends all the way back to 1859 when the state’s first-ever commercial oil well was drilled (more like “dug”) in the township of Mecca, Trumbull County — only weeks after Col. Edwin Drake made his famous discovery in Pennsylvania.
One-hundred-and-fifty years later, more than one billion barrels of oil and nine trillion cubic feet of natural gas have been harvested from Ohio, with commercial wells developed in 67 of the state’s 88 counties. Since the first one was developed in Mecca, more than 268,000 wells have been drilled in Ohio. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are some 29,000 active oil wells and nearly 35,000 active natural gas wells producing energy in and for Ohio today. And almost every one of them remains viable today thanks to the application of hydraulic fracturing, a technology that’s been used safely and responsibly here in Ohio since the 1940s.
- Web page: History of oil and gas development in Ohio [OOGA]
- PDF: Official history of oil and gas in the state [ODNR]
A Look Forward
Deeper than the Marcellus shale and Clinton sandstone, but shallower than the dolomites and limestones of the Trenton Black River group, Ohio’s portion of the Utica Shale is found more than 7,000 feet beneath the earth’s surface, with billions of tons of impermeable rock separating the target stratum below from potable drinking water supplies above.
So exactly how much Ohio oil and natural gas is actually down there in the Utica? At this stage, it’s tough to say for sure. According to the Ohio Geologic Survey, the Utica is believed to hold more than 15 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 5.5 billion barrels of oil – figures the agency regards as a “very conservative estimation.” Other experts have suggested the Utica may house more than 25 billion barrels of oil equivalent, which includes oil, natural gas and valuable liquids like ethane and propane. To put that number into perspective, China’s proved oil reserves stood at just over 20 billion barrels in 2010.
Some folks believe the Utica is destined to become one of the largest liquids shale formations in the entire country. Pretty amazing stuff considering that less than five years ago, the Utica was reported by some experts to be nothing more than a “marginal” play.
- Fact Sheet: Looking Ahead: Utica Development Could Mean More than 200,000 New Jobs for Ohio (OOGEEP, 2011)
- Map: Utica Shale activity in Ohio, 2010 [ODNR]
- PowerPoint: Everything you’d ever need to know about the shale in Ohio [ODNR]