While Rice Energy Inc.’s main area of operations is the Marcellus Shale formation, the company is finding that its growth area is within the Utica.
During Executive Vice President of Exploration Derek Rice’s end of the day speech at the Hart Energy DUG East conference in Pittsburgh, Rice explained how Rice Energy is currently positioned on 60,000 acres of what the company believes is the Utica Shale’s prime area. He also mentioned how the company sees three or four of the counties in the Utica accounting for 90 percent of the shale’s production within the next five to 10 years.
Before now, Rice Energy has focused its Utica Shale exploration in Belmont County, Ohio, which is one of the three counties it has operations in. Now, Rice Energy is expanding into the Utica Shale in Greene County, Pennsylvania, and is working on developing a well in the play’s deep shale. According to Rice, the new well is drilled and has a lateral of an estimated 5,700 feet. The company anticipates completion of the well this week. Rice discussed the Utica’s questionable viability in his speech:
Geologically, it’s not a big risk. We know what the shale looks like. We’re excited about the rock … The real question is how cheaply can we drill these wells. They’re going to be significantly more expensive than our Marcellus wells. To compete for capital, we need to drive those well costs down.
The Utica Shale has been a hot topic this year at the Hart Energy DUG East conference since natural gas prices are still low and operators are focusing in on areas that will be worth their time, money and efforts. Currently, many operators have been focusing in on shale formations in Washington and Greene counties in Pennsylvania and select few counties in Ohio.