By STACY MILLBERG - email@example.com
WAYNE TOWNSHIP —
Drilling for the first shale well in Ashtabula County is set to begin late next month.
A lease agreement is in place between Texas firm, Beusa Energy, and a property owner in Wayne Township and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued Beusa a drilling permit on Friday.
Cary Dukes, operations manager for Beusa, said the firm will be exploring for oil and gas in the Utica-Point Pleasant formation. The first well will essentially be a test to see how it will produce. If it produces well, the firm will drill additional wells in the area, he said.
“Once we get started, the first well will determine the economic feasibility,” Dukes said.
Beusa will drill the well then complete and frack it, he said. The well will then be capped for 60 days before the firm begins to conduct flow testing.
Dukes said they will know late this year how the well will produce. Should anything hinder the drilling, such as procuring a drilling rig, Dukes said the firm will delay the drilling until spring.
“We won’t work in the snow and ice,” he said.
The Ashtabula County Energy Development Task Force met with Dukes and another member of the firm to learn more about the drilling last week. The task force was developed several months ago to prepare the county for any issues that may arise concerning fracking.
County Commissioner Joe Moroski said the task force’s main goal is to ensure that any energy development in the county is done in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
“We tried to make it clear to the people from the onset, this is not a pro-fracking group or an anti-fracking group,” he said.
The group consists of Moroski; Debbie Friedstrom, president of the Ashtabula County Township Trustees Association; Brian Anderson, executive director of Growth Partnership; Nathan Paskey, of the Soil and Water Conservation District; Sean Ratican, director of the Ashtabula County Port Authority; County Engineer Tim Martin; a representative from the county Emergency Management Agency; State Rep. John Patterson, D-Jefferson; David Marrison of the OSU Extension Office; a representative from the county Fire Chief’s Association; and State Sen. Capri Cafaro.
The group is planning to travel to Carroll County as it is actively involved in the shale oil play, Moroski said.
“Nothing gives you more first hand information than actually seeing it,” he said. “For them (Carroll County), it has been a real positive boost for pumping money into their economy.”
Moroski said he doesn’t know if Ashtabula County’s play will be as big as in some of the state’s southern counties. It will rely greatly on some of the first experiences the county has.
“It’s kind of an interesting position to be in,” he said. “We don’t know what it will be, but we know it will be something.”