14 drilling permits issued for Utica play, all south of county

SALEM – Of the 14 horizontal oil and gas drilling permits issued in the Utica/Point Pleasant shale play last week, five were in Belmont County, four in Harrison County, two each in Guernsey and Noble counties and one in Jefferson County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

The ODNR said there were 46 drilling rigs operating in the shale play with 1,457 permits issued, 1,088 wells drilled and 549 wells producing.

The Youngstown Business Journal reported that Blue Racer Midstream, a $1.5 billion joint venture between Caiman Energy II, LLC and Dominion formed in 2012, plans to build a new wet gas processing facility in Mahoning County near Petersburg by June 2016.

Dominion contributed existing midstream assets to Blue Racer including more than 500 miles of gathering lines that span the Utica Shale, the Natrium Natural Gas Processing & Fractionation Plant in Marshall County, West Virginia, and a Dominion Transmission pipeline connecting Natrium to the Dominion East Ohio gathering system. Caiman’s contribution includes $800 million in equity capital commitments and the experience and expertise required to manage and expand Dominion’s asset base.

The Wheeling Intelligencer reported that the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources is seeking bids that would allow Utica and Marcellus shale drillers to access gas in Wetzel, Marshall and Pleasant counties, which border eastern Ohio.

The division placed a legal notice seeking bids in the newspaper for exclusive rights to lease gas below the Ohio River late last week. The bids must be submitted by Sept. 11.

A Magnum Hunter Resources Corp. subsidiary runs a pipeline underneath the river that sends Utica shale gas from Ohio to a processing plant in West Virginia, the Intelligencer said.

West Virginia drillers primarily target gas in the Marcellus shale, although interest in the Utica is increasing. Chesapeake Energy just completed its first test well in West Virginia’s Utica in Wetzel County.