Since my last update in July, I have perceived a trend of a southward movement of the Utica play. There
is presently a good deal of leasing activity in Belmont, Harrison, Noble and Guernsey Counties. Word
is that some of the best wells to date have been drilled in that area. Certainly, Carroll County and
Columbiana Counties are seeing large numbers of wells drilled, but leasing there is not as active as it
once was; companies are primarily focused on filling in planned drilling units and not much interested in
taking random leases. The basic attitude seems to be – ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you if we need you.’ In
areas where there is a single company with a dominant lease position, lease prices are actually trending
downward as there is little competition for leasing.
The far western and far northern areas of the play have seen some bad drilling results that are
likely to stall rapid development until the boundaries and characteristics of the Utica shale are
better understood. For the time being, most companies are likely to stick tight to what is believed
to be the narrow “wet gas” window of the play – the low hanging fruit. For a map, click here.
I am presently spending a good deal of my time dealing with older leases or old mineral reservations,
in an attempt to clean up title in favor of my landowner clients. This sometimes requires litigation. I
currently have cases pending in courts from the top of the play (Trumbull County) all the way down to
the southern part of the play (Monroe County).