COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – Updated studies show Ohio’s oil-rich shale deposits may extend farther west than earlier believed.
Revised maps produced by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources show promising shale prospects in Hancock, Hardin, Wyandot and Seneca counties in the region between Mansfield and Lima.
State geologists posted the revised maps on the agency website after reviewing information from 100 new locations.
The new maps support earlier indications that eastern Ohio – including Stark, Carroll and Tuscarawas counties from Canton south – should be a hot spot for oil and liquid natural-gas production.
A map released last year indicated there might be fair to good production in parts of Marion, Delaware and Union counties north and northwest of Columbus.
Geologists checked wells drilled in the past year and core samplings from test wells to measure organic carbon in the rock to determine how much oil and natural gas might be found.
Companies have offered the information to the state, ODNR spokesman Matt Eiselstein said, and this year the state has more samples from counties farther west. The samples have “more or less brought that into clearer focus,” Eiselstein said.
The updated maps show all drilling in the Utica formation that’s using hydraulic fracturing of wells drilled horizontally into shale to release gas and oil deposits.
As of March 2, energy companies have taken out Ohio permits for 295 wells, completed drilling on 155 and have begun drilling on 15 more. Seventy-five wells are producing, according to information collected from the companies.
Hydraulic fracturing has made it possible to tap into deep reserves of oil and gas. But the boom in shale gas fracking raised concerns about pollution.
Large volumes of water, along with sand and hazardous chemicals, are injected underground to break rock apart and free the oil and gas.
Utica shale is a source rock for oil and natural gas, said Pete MacKenzie, a geologist and vice president of operations for the Ohio Oil & Gas Association. Oil and gas moves from the shale and collects in other rock formations.