New data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources shows that oil and gas production in the state has more than doubled as of the third quarter of 2013. The Utica Shale pumped out 1.3 million barrels of oil and 33.6 billion cubic feet of natural gas . In 2012, Ohio produced 635,876 barrels of oil and 12.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas.
One of the companies leading the way last year was Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK). The nation's No. 2 natural gas producer saw output in the Utica Shale jump by 91% over the previous year. And its production could have been much higher. As of the end of September, Chesapeake Energy had drilled 377 wells, but 208 were either waiting on pipelines or were in various stages of completion . That suggests the Utica could see another burst of production in 2014.
The other company really fueling the rise of the Utica Shale is Gulfport Energy (NASDAQ:GPOR), which drilled the best oil well in Ohio last year. The Boy Scout well in Harrison County produced 41,617 barrels of oil in just its first 70 days of production. Gulfport Energy also produced the state's top gas well, as its Stutzman well in Belmont County produced 1.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas in just 89 days. That's more than enough gas to heat 10,000 homes for in excess of one year.
Production from the Utica Shale should continue to grow in 2014. Gulfport Energy has already increased its 2014 capital spending plan for this play to $614 million. That should enable the company to push its production there to an average of up to 54,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
In addition to heavyweights like Gulfport Energy and Chesapeake Energy, emerging players including Antero Resources (NYSE:AR) and Magnum Hunter Resources (OTC:MHRCQ) are making moves to grow production from this resource-rich shale.
Antero Resources went public in 2013 in order to have the capital to fuel its drilling plans. The company is already the third most active driller in the Utica Shale, and it sees a long runway of growth with more than 720 future wells. Overall, Antero believes it has the potential to produce more than 5.3 trillion cubic feet equivalent, with 19% of that production being oil or natural gas liquids.
Magnum Hunter Resources, on the other hand, is just getting started in the Utica Shale. The company is completing its first few wells in the play. A lot of the company's acreage is adjacent to Antero Resources, suggesting that Magnum is situated in a prime spot in the play. Once investors start to see this potential being realized, it could really fuel the company's shares.
Ohio's Utica Shale has had its ups and downs. Production, however, is heading in the right direction and looks to be rising in the future.That should fuel a rise in the stock prices of Ohio's best-positioned drillers.