The hydraulic drilling of Utica shale is one step closer to reality in Ashtabula County with the operation of a test well just north of Laskey Road.
“I think it is the first one in this county where they are concentrating on Utica shale,” said Nathan Paskey of the Ashtabula County Soil and Water Conservation District.
“I was on the site to watch them put up some erosion control,” Paskey said.
The test well has been operational for the last several weeks, said Jerry Kohl, an oil and gas inspector with the Ohio Division of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management. He said it is the only active permit in Ashtabula County.
The well is owned by EnerVest, Paskey said. “It is basically a core sampling well...This is truly a test,” he said. “They control a lot of leases up here. They have been around a long time,” Paskey said.
Kohl said the operation is expected to be complete in about a week. Paskey said the hole will likely be filled with cement. It could not be a hydraulic fracking well site because the land is too small.
“These sites have to be three, four or five acres,” Paskey said. He said the company could come back later and place a well in the vicinity on a larger piece of land.
“Who knows whether they will be back,” Paskey said. He said some neighbors expressed concerns about potential erosion issues at the site and the company agreed to put in the suggested remedy.
Paskey said oil companies have been evaluating core sampling test results that the state has accumulated. “These companies have been doing testing for several years,” he said.
Tom Svoboda, a farmer whose property abuts the well, was originally concerned about the permanency of the well that close to his house but the company has been a good neighbor so far.
“They treat you with respect,” Svoboda said. He said the well has not been loud enough to affect his sleep patterns.
“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said.
Svoboda hopes the potential oil and gas drilling will be a boon to the local economy.
“If they are going to strike oil and gas then I’d like to see somebody get rich (here) rather than the people in Texas,” he said.