NORTH CANTON, Ohio — New fracking wells spread rapidly throughout the Utica shale in eastern Ohio last year, increasing the state’s natural gas production to historic highs, state officials said.
Natural gas production increased by 97 percent in 2013 from 2012, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director James Zehringer said in a presentation at Stark State College.
And oil production increased by 62 percent in that same time.
Mr. Zehringer said fracking in the Utica shale formation below much of eastern and southern Ohio was directly responsible for the increase. “The Utica play is the real deal,” he said.
He moderated a discussion Wednesday that featured Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler, JobsOhio Senior Managing Director David Mustine, ODNR Oil and Gas Chief Rick Simmers, and State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers.
The overwhelming message was that the number of wells is growing quickly, oil and gas production is booming, and Ohio’s legislators and regulatory agencies need to continue to protect the environment and people without interfering with an industry that is bringing money and jobs to the state.
After all, Mr. Zehringer said, Ohio is still in the early stages of shale drilling. “The regulations have to make sense ... and allow for development,” he said.
The numbers presented show more development coming.
Drillers tapped 85 wells in the Utica shale in Ohio in 2012. In the first six months of 2014 alone, Natural Resources has approved about 350 permits for shale wells. Officials said they expect to approve another 350 by the end of 2014, and predict an additional 800 in 2015.
“They’re drilling quickly,” Mr. Simmers said.