Carroll County, still mostly farmland, superficially, has become the heart and nervous system of the emerging oil and gas industry. While no well there ranks among the top-10 producers of oil or gas in the Utica shale, the collective energy production of the county is a force that has attracted notice from around the world.
“For some reason, the BBC has me on its speed dial,” laughs Aaron Dodds, the county economic development director, referring to the international attention his community has drawn since 2010. That’s when energy companies descended on eastern Ohio in search of oil, natural-gas liquids and dry gas trapped millions of years 7,000 feet below.
In addition to the British Broadcasting Corp., news agencies from Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Sweden and Germany have all contacted Dodds and inquired about his county, for obvious reasons.
During the third quarter, the 313 producing horizontal wells in Carroll County yielded 1.122 million barrels of oil, more than one-third of all of the oil obtained from Ohio’s Utica shale during the period, according to the latest production records from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Natural gas production was also robust at 47.6 billion cubic feet.
The impact over the last three years is clearly transformative, Dodds says. Farmers who once struggled have now paid off their debts, preventing foreclosure or sale of their assets. Cash flows at a rate never before experienced in the history of the county. Equipment dealerships, restaurants, service businesses flourish; manufacturers have moved into the area; and new construction is visible along the major business corridor in Carrollton.
“People are starting to spend money,” Dodds says. “They’re no longer waiting for a knock on the door with someone saying they want their check back.”
Although one-time bonus payments to landowners – some in excess of $5,800 an acre paid in return for leasehold agreements – made some wealthy overnight, Dodds says many people remained apprehensive. The real test was whether these companies, namely Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., would actually drill and honor these leases with a steady stream of royalty checks – some commanding 20% gross production of a well – for years to come.Continue reading by clicking here.
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