Optimism Still Remains For Utica as More and More Infrastructure Gets Put in Place
The thing about Utica—whose core is in Ohio, but which also spans Pennsylvania and West Virginia--is that it is mostly about natural gas and natural gas liquids—not oil, so the commodities market isn’t as kind to it right now. And production is moving at a pace that is faster than new infrastructure can be built to get it to market. This should start looking up later this year; however, as new infrastructure capacity comes on line and bottlenecks are taken care of.
In fact, there is already some good news on this front. The Natrium Natural Gas Processing and Fractionation Plant in West Virginia has been taken over by Blue Racer Midstream and is now up and running—and servicing the Utica shale as of this summer. In total, Blue Racer has 500 miles of pipeline to carry Utica gas to the plant and can process 200 million cubic feet per day. It is the first large-scale processing plant in Utica.
Utica production should also ramp up later this year (especially for Chesapeake), with the start-up of another natural gas processing plant in Columbiana Count, Ohio, along with a liquids-separating facility in Harrison County.
Despite some cold feet, the potential for Utica is great. The play is estimated to contain about 38 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas, along with around 940 million barrels of unconventional oil resources and over 200 million barrels of unconventional natural gas liquids.