Prolific U.S. shale regions have delivered some of the best investments in energy over the past few years – and now there's another state set to join the Frackers' Club.
Ohio finds itself sitting atop the deep Utica Shale formation, a source of unconventionally derived oil and natural gas.
In fact, roughly the entire eastern half of the state lies on top of the formation. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), that portion holds most of the Utica Shale's oil resources.
The natural gas assessment units – land where the USGS believes there to be energy resources – run farther to the north, south, and east of Ohio, going down into West Virginia and Kentucky, across into Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York and up across the Canadian border into Ontario and Quebec – much of the immense, ancient Appalachian Basin.
Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE: CHK) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Doug Lawler has said that that he is "encouraged" by what he's seen in the Utica Shale and that "the Utica is outstanding."
Here's why the Utica Shale can make investors – and Ohio, and producing companies that flock to the formation – lots of money.
Just How Much Oil and Gas Is Down There?
Initial reports, compiled by the Akron Beacon Journal, indicate that a "slow start, but great promise" situation is developing, with a far, far heavier emphasis on natural gas than oil – despite the USGS assessments.
In 2012, the last year for which comprehensive figures are available, the Akron Beacon Journalreported that there were 87 wells – mostly exploratory – drilled by 11 different companies. These efforts have yielded 12.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas and natural gas liquids and 635,896 barrels of oil – so far. It's important to keep in mind that things are still very much in the exploratory phase, although results are promising.
Estimates of oil reserves vary widely. The Ohio Geological Survey says there may be as much as 1.96 billion to 8.2 billion barrels of oil, equivalent, still in the ground.
While these numbers are a promising start, now there's another reason Utica Shale is a hot spot for the next best energy investments…