Natural gas production in Ohio nearly doubled last year largely because of a surge in hydraulic fracturing operations in the state. Speaking at a conference earlier this month about oil and gas development in the state, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer said the amount of natural gas extracted in Ohio rose by 97% between 2012 and 2013 to about 171 billion cubic feet. Oil production also rose by nearly 62% to 8.1 million barrels during that same period.
Zehringer attributed the soaring natural gas outputs to the oil and gas industry’s aggressive development of the Utica Shale play, which runs beneath much of the eastern portion of the state. The number of fracking wells operating in the play increased from 85 in 2012 to 352 last year. And that figure promises to continue growing. State officials have issued permits for approximately 350 additional wells since January alone and expect to approve 350 more by the end of the year.
Also in attendance was Richard Simmers, head of the ODNR’s Oil and Gas Division, who pointed to advancements in drilling technologies as another important reason why oil and gas production in Ohio reached historic levels in 2013. Simmers said drillers who needed around 35 days to hit 13,000 feet in 2010 could surpass 17,000 feet in less than half that time today.
The conference, held outside of Canton, Ohio, at Stark State College, highlighted the achievements of Ohio’s energy sector over the last few years. In addition to discussing the growth in natural gas production, speakers addressed a wide swath of issues, ranging from pipeline development to regulatory practices. According to Zehringer, “Ohio’s oil and gas industry is growing and moving [the] state toward energy independence.”