Ohio Shale Plays
Ohio has seen a renewed interest in oil and natural gas activity, largely in part to Ohio's Utica shale play. Before explaining this, it is important to understand the technology that has made horizontal drilling possible.
Horizontal or Directional Drilling
Horizontal (or sometimes called Directional) drilling has made several shale plays economically possible. Horizontal drilling is the process of drilling a well vertically from the surface to a subsurface location just above the target oil or natural gas reservoir (commonly called the “kickoff point”). This process is similar to the drilling process for a traditional vertical oil or gas well. The difference is that a horizontal well deviates or turns the well bore horizontally to intersect the oil and natural gas reservoir at a specific entry point.
The end result is a better pathway for oil and natural gas is created to reach the well bore. . In a very basic sense, a horizontal lateral is like a drainage ditch a farmer might use to drain water from their fields
Horizontal drilling has two key benefits. First, the flow of oil and natural gas into the well bore is dramatically increased. In a traditional vertical well, approximately 50 feet of the wellbore is open to capture oil and natural gas. A horizontal lateral can go a mile or farther into the reservoir rock formation, exposing more oil and natural gas reserves to the well bore.
Additionally, horizontal drilling has led to reducing the overall footprint of oil and natural gas activity. As the example in the following graphic shows, this horizontal well produces the energy of 32 oil or natural gas wells. Prior to horizontal drilling technology, you would have had to drill 32 wells in the area to get the same energy production as 1 horizontal well.
The Utica/Point Pleasant Shale and Ohio
The Utica Shale extends across southeastern Ohio and ranges in thickness from 87 feet to 350 feet. The play also appears to have several thick pockets of recoverable oil and natural gas trapped in the reservoir rocks.