Monday, April 1, 2013

What to Expect in the 2012 Utica Shale Production Report

The much anticipated 2012 production report from the Utica Shale in Ohio is due out anytime, likely in the next 24-48 hours if last year's release is any indication, but the size and complexity of this year's report might require additional preparation time, we will have to wait and see. The report is sure to include a raft of data to go through, and interpretation of the data will require some understanding of where the numbers come from and what the numbers truly indicate.

2011 report offers insight in what to expect
The 2011 report from the Ohio DNR Web site contained just nine wells and included a number of notations provided to help understand the significance of the numbers. This year's report will be more complicated given the number of wells with production in 2012, but expect to see similar language including
  • Numbers that indicate actual days of production and do not include days of down-time.
  • Day that the  well first produced commercial production
  • Oil recovered as part of completion/flowback and not a component of commercial production
Typically, once completed, a well is production tested in order to determine production potential, then, based on the availability of transport and other factors, the well might not go into full commercial production for months. As a result, much of the production data will be fragmented, with wells producing in fits and starts.

Chesapeake's April 1st 2013 comments on Utica Shale Production
Already, Chesapeake Energy, the company that will have the most significant production data on display in the 2012 report, commented in an April 1st 2013 conference call that “Due to the infrastructure constraints .. it was necessary to curtail and restrict production on the wells placed into service last year. As a result, we believe the data reported to ODNR is not indicative of the productive capacity of (our) Utica Shale wells.”  "Not indicative of the production capacity" is the phrase that will make evaluating the numbers somewhat complex. Full conference call archived here under 04/01/13.

Infrastructure constraints on production
Other operators, including Gulfport Energy, have referenced the fact that commercial production will be somewhat limited by takeaway and processing infrastructure, though Gulfport also went on to note that such infrastructure was rapidly becoming available.

As a result, we can expect to see significant notations in 2012 production report related to limited production days for many of the wells, and unless Ohio decides to alter the reporting requirement it will be another year before we get a glimpse of production numbers aside from the welcomed voluntary release of data that has become common with some operators.