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Utica Shale: Wading Through the Hype

It’s hard to get a handle on the Utica shale, and whether it’s an amazing success or a horrible disappointment—this is a matter of perspective. But give us a chance here to expand your perspective for you: The Utica shale is much bigger than you think. All the talk of Utica is centered on the state of Ohio, but this is only a part of the Utica Shale. The rest of it—and it’s massive—lies underneath the Marcellus in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York and Maryland. Exploration has so far been limited to Ohio, but this is only scratching the surface. But what this means is that while the lesser known portion of the Utica that lies under Marcellus will have to wait until Marcellus is all fracked out and it’s time to go even deeper.

For now, we’ve only got Ohio to go on, and the jury is still out, with varying interpretations of the 2012 production figures recently released for Utica. While Ohio authorities called the figures “compelling”, some investors weren’t so sure, bemoaning what they saw as slower-than-expected exploration results and underperformance. What everyone does agree on is that infrastructure will be a problem.

So let’s look at the figures, and you can decide for yourself. This is the result that has sparked so much controversy:  87 Utica wells produced more than 600,000 barrels of oil and 12.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas in 2012. There is a lot left open to…

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