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Sustainability: Oil & Gas Resources

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Marcellus and Utica Shale Development in Stark County, Ohio

by Susi Rankis, Rural Action


Many Ohioans are aware of the interest to expand oil and gas development in the state. Rural Landowners are being approached about leasing their mineral rights for development. Many cities and towns are conflicted about this type of development in their community. On one hand, there is potential for some landowners to gain significant income from leasing their mineral rights to an oil and gas company. Towns and counties that own property also have the ability to generate income that could help fill budget gaps. On the other hand, newer technologies for shale development have a larger footprint on the land, demand more energy, and have a much higher utilization of water during the drilling process than traditional wells. In addition, there are some questions about whether sufficient regulations and oversight both at the state and  federal level. Other states within the Marcellus formation have experienced some problems such as groundwater contamination due to improper cementing of wells when they were drilled. While these problems were not caused by the “hydraulic fracturing” process, they were caused by human error which can never be mitigated 100%. Due to these events, and with continued learning, companies are continuing to explore ways to improve their design and construction of wells.

Stark County
While Stark County is situated clearly within the potential development area in the Utica formation, there is less potential for drilling within the Marcellus throughout the county. Only the southern and a small part of the eastern portion of Stark County currently has some known potential for the Marcellus. As of 2011, Stark County had two permitted sites for a Horizontal wells that will be drilled to the Utica Formation. These sites have been permitted through Chesapeake Exploration LLC and Enervest Operating LLC.

History of Oil and Gas in Ohio
Source:  Ohio Department of Natural Resources
The first oil well in Ohio drilled for commercial production was located in Macksburg, Washington County. It was drilled in 1860, one year after Colonel Drake discovered the first oil well in Titusville, Pennsylvania. From 1861 through the early 1900’s shallow sandstone reservoirs were developed in southeastern Ohio. In 1884, the Lima oil field was discovered in northwestern Ohio, making Ohio the world’s largest oil producer at the time.

In 1887, natural gas was discovered in the Silurian “Clinton sandstone” in Fairfield County. Since that time, over 75,000 wells have been completed in the Clinton sandstone throughout eastern Ohio. There has been little development of shales for gas production at this point in time. Ohio has approximately 64,500 active wells, most of which are characterized as stripper wells (producing 10 barrels of oil or 60,000 cubic feet (Mcf) of natural gas per day or less).

Hydraulic fracturing began in Ohio in the 1950s. Most wells drilled and completed today are completed by hydraulic fracturing operations. Most of these wells are vertical wells. Although an estimated 80,000 wells have been fractured in Ohio, state agencies have not identified a single instance where groundwater has been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing operations.

Water Usage
Source:  Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Most hydraulic fracturing operations in Ohio are of vertical wells and use relatively low volumes of water. Some companies buy water from municipal water plants, especially in urban areas, but the main source is surface water. The Division of Soil and Water Resources at ODNR requires the registration of water withdrawals that may exceed 100,000 gallons per day. If large volume hydraulic fracturing occurs in a watershed where a river basin commission or other watershed authority has jurisdiction, a permit may be required by the watershed authority. Within the Great Lakes Watershed, a Water Resources Management Decision Support System has been developed and a water use database has been created to inventory water withdrawals and use.

Watch a Video about the Hydraulic Fracturing Process (6 minutes and 13 seconds)


Watch a Video about the Hydraulic Fracturing Process (7 minutes)

Watch A Video

Oil & Gas Resources - Posted by Stark State College

Ohio Department of Natural Resources:

Marcellus & Utica information -

Shale Development Fact Sheets -

Oil and Natural Gas Well and Shale Development Resources -



Casing animation -

Chesapeake Energy horizontal drilling method -

Chesapeake energy hydraulic fracturing method -


Energy in Depth:

Main site -

GasLand review -

Hydraulic Fracturing -




Information Provided by:

S. Kathleen Steere, Petroleum Engineer

Coordinator Oil & Gas Programs, Stark State College

Tel: 330-494-6170  ext 4777 - Email:

Anti-Fracking Information from EcoWatch

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ODNR Shale Development Information

Ohio Division of Geological Survey:

Ohio EPA:

Penn State Marcellus Center:

Frac Focus:

Ohio Farm Bureau:

OSU Extension:

Ohio Oil & Gas Energy Education Program:

Look Before you Lease (LB4UL)

Network for Oil and Gas Accountability and Protection (NEOGAP)