Oil and Gas Info

Drilling Ramps Up In Belmont County

Companies building new well to target oil deposits

Photo by Casey Junkins
Those driving along Interstate 70 between St. Clairsville and Morristown likely will notice that Beck Energy Corp. and Petroleum Development Corp. are preparing to drill into the Utica Shale. 

The Utica Shale is believed to contain vast reserves of oil, natural gas, butane, ethane and propane.

Ravenna, Ohio-based Beck Energy holds the drilling permit, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Petroleum Development Corp., founded in Bridgeport, W.Va., now operates in numerous areas of the nation and will drill the well as part of a joint operating agreement between the two companies.

Large companies like Exxon Mobil, via subsidiaries XTO Energy and Phillips Resources, and New York City-based Hess Corp., through the acquisition of Marquette Exploration, are staking their claims in the Utica Shale in Belmont, Harrison and Jefferson counties. However, leaders of smaller companies like Beck and Petroleum believe there is still room in the market for their work.

One Chesapeake Energy Utica well in Harrison County reached a peak output of 9.5 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, encouraging company leaders to make plans for more Ohio drilling. Anderson cites this as one reason for optimism in drilling the Belmont County well.

“We’ll just have to see what we get out of it,” he said, noting the Utica formation is the specific target of the drilling operation.

In recently announcing $50 million worth of land acquisitions across southeast Ohio by his company, Petroleum President and Chief Executive Officer James Trimble said, “Our exploration team did an outstanding job of both identifying and technically analyzing the Utica Shale play over the last year, and our land team worked diligently at positioning us to acquire this 30,000 net acreage position.

“We will continue to pursue additional Utica Shale acreage purchases that complement our existing positions within the wet gas and oil phases and will pursue an industry partner to help fund an expanded position within the play,” Trimble added, noting the company hopes to increase its Utica leaseholdings to 100,000 acres by the end of 2012.

Anderson insisted the well located near I-70 will not be an injection well, one that gas drillers would use to dispose of their briny wastewater from fracking operations.

“It is permitted as an oil and gas producing well,” Anderson emphasized, with Ohio DNR records substantiating his statement.

“We are going to be doing a lot of testing at that well,” said Raymond Beck, owner of Beck Energy. “It is a very exciting time for everyone.” 

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