--> From the Good Ole Days of the Heartland to Today, Ohio’s 160+ Years of Oil And Gas Activity and how Things have Changed

2019 AAPG Eastern Section Meeting:
Energy from the Heartland

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From the Good Ole Days of the Heartland to Today, Ohio’s 160+ Years of Oil And Gas Activity and how Things have Changed


Ohio has a long and rich oil and gas history with roots going back to the early 1800’s when Silas Thorla and Robert McKee dug a brine well around the year 1814 that produced one barrel of “nuisance oil” a week. Nearly 71 years later in 1885, the Karg well, drilled near Findlay, Ohio to the Trenton Limestone sparked Ohio’s commercial oil and gas industry as we knew it. Interest in Ohio’s oil and gas resources exploded causing a serendipitous discovery in 1887 of the “Clinton play” in Lancaster, Ohio. Another 72 years later in 1959, the Monk well and the famous 1961 Orrie Myers well started the Knox remnant play in Morrow county. Like the plays of the past, the excitement over the Knox remnant play lasted just over a decade but steadily declined. Up to that point Ohio only had conventional vertical wells, producing from numerous pools. It has long been known that several shales contained hydrocarbons beneath Ohio’s surface. John A. Bownocker mentioned this in the Geological Survey of Ohio Bulletin 1, in 1903. When writing about Ohio Shale gas he said, “the aggregate amount contained, however, must be very large, and if it could be collected would form one of the most valuable supplies of fuel in the state.” In February 2011, Ohio Buckeye Energy drilled the Buell well in Harrison county using a new drilling and completion technique, beginning today’s unconventional horizontal Utica/Point Pleasant play. This well reignited Ohio’s oil and gas industry in a new way. Amazingly, Bownocker was correct, the amount of gas produced from the Utica/Point Pleasant shale in the last eight years has surpassed the total amount of gas produced in all of Ohio’s history; and in 2015 for the first time Ohio became a net exporter of natural gas. The first 82 years of Ohio’s exciting oil and gas activity went virtually unregulated, especially in the non-coal bearing townships. Wells were drilled whenever, wherever, and however with little regard. In 1965, six years after the Knox remnant discovery, the Division of Oil and Gas was created. Two years later several rules were adopted requiring owners to plug wells incapable of production, establishing a bond requirement, and setting minimum well spacing standards. This talk will illustrate Ohio’s production history and how the Division’s laws and rules have evolved to keep up with the ever-changing industry to ensure a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.