YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Government geologists are now supporting what we already suspected that the Utica Shale formations in Ohio and Pennsylvania, along with several other states, hold enormous reserves of natural gas and oil.
The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that what lies beneath us in the form of Utica Shale are 940 million barrels of oil, 38 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and nine million barrels of natural gas liquids.
Dr. Jeffrey Dick, a professor of Geology at Youngstown State University and part of our 21 News Shale Team, says, "We've got proven reserves. We're producing it out of the ground and that's defining the sweet spot."
That Utica Shale assessment covers six states, including Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
According to Dr. Dick, some of the richest areas for drilling, or sweet spots as they are referred to, may very well be right here in the Mahoning Valley.
Columbiana County has already been producing gas and according to what's mapped out by the geological survey; Mahoning County is also more likely to produce more gas than oil.
"But there's no reason to believe that the sweet spot would not extend through at least central to western Mahoning County into central to western Trumbull County," Dr. Dick says.
Utica Shale is an oil-prone source rock found beneath the Marcellus Shale, and this assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey is supporting what we've already suspected about the abundance of natural gas and oil reserves in our own back yard.
Attorney Alan Wegner of the law firm Harrington, Hoppe & Mitchell has decades of experience overseeing mineral rights contracts for land owners. "What we're hearing, or what the scientists and geologists are saying, would be that probably there would be an initial huge production, and then a slow tapering off of production in the good wells that could go on for decades, maybe many decades, we just don't know," Wegner said.
What Attorney Wegner is certain of is that all of the major players in the oil and gas industry have come to town and they appear to be here for the long-term.
Wegner said it is best to get an attorney experienced in handling contracts specifically related to mineral rights before you sign anything. He warns that all contracts are not standard and you should know your rights before signing on the dotted line.