Utica shale may hold more oil, gas than earlier estimates, study says

The Utica shale, which underlies the better-known Marcellus formation, could hold far more oil and gas than previously estimated, the US Department of Energy’s Fossil Energy Office said. If the play’s commercial potential could be realized, it could be, geographically, the nation’s largest gas field, it indicated.

FEO said the 2-year study, which West Virginia University led with financial support from DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratories (NETL) and 14 industry members of the Utica Shale Appalachian Basin Exploration Consortium, estimated that the Utica shale holds technically recoverable volumes of nearly 2 billion bbl of crude oil and 782 tcf of gas.

The results, which build upon and refine previous estimates, far exceed the US Geological Survey’s 2012 assessment and highlight new potential for the Utica shale, FOE said on Oct. 9. The study and its findings have been incorporated into the consortium’s Geologic Play Book for Utica Shale Appalachian Basin Exploration, and made publicly available at the recent Utica Shale Play Study Workshop, which WVU hosted.

The Utica shale underlies most of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, FOE noted. The formation also extends under adjacent parts of Canada, as well as Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, and Virginia. FOE noted that in central Pennsylvania, the Utica lies as much as 7,000 ft below the Marcellus, and the interval thins to less than 3,000 ft in eastern Ohio.

“The Utica has been recognized as a significant oil and gas resource with the potential to out-produce the Marcellus due to its thickness and extensive geographic reach,” FOE said. “Until now, [its] impact has largely been unknown due to the limited amount of publicly available information.”

It said that the consortium’s research team was made up of personnel from the Kentucky Geological Survey, the Ohio Geological Survey, the Pennsylvania Geological Survey, the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, USGS, Smith Stratigraphic LLC, Indiana University, Washington University in St. Louis, WVU, and NETL.he study’s financial sponsors, in addition to NETL, included Anadarko Petroleum Corp., Chevron Corp., CNX Corp., ConocoPhillips Co., Devon Energy Corp., EnerVest Ltd., EOG Resources Inc., EQT Corp., Hess Corp., Range Resources Corp., Seneca Resources Corp., Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Southwestern Energy Co., and Tracker Resource Development LLC, FOE said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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