How to Invest in the Explosive Growth of the Utica Shale

Oil and gas production out of Ohio's Utica Shale more than doubled last year. That's despite the fact that the play's top driller Chesapeake Energy Corporation (NYSE: CHK  ) still had 208 of the 377 wells it drilled still waiting to be completed as of the end of last quarter. It's also despite the fact that some of the play's emerging drillers like Halcon Resources Corp. (NYSE: HK  ) and Magnum Hunter Resources (NYSE: MHR  ) are just beginning to drill. Because we're so early in the development of the Utica Shale, there is a real opportunity for investors to profit from the play's explosive growth potential.

The choice investors need to make is how to best invest in the emergence of the Utica Shale. Chesapeake Energy might one of the largest leaseholders, but only about 15% of its 2014 capital budget will be spent on the play. Meanwhile, Magnum Hunter Resources has only completed one well so far. However, it is the second most levered to the Utica Shale when comparing its net Utica acreage to its enterprise value.

Finally, there are other emerging drillers like Halcon Resources. While it doesn't have as many total net acres as Chesapeake Energy, it's tied with the nation's No. 2 natural gas producer in third place when it comes to total leverage to the Utica Shale. Because there is no easy choice, I've created the following slideshow to help investors decide which Utica Shale driller might make the most sense for their portfolio.

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