Lou Allstadt has taken a look at the USGS report of the Utica Shale “sweet spot” in New York state, and has concluded, that based on test wells drilled, the sweet spot may be a bit sour in Otsego County. Karen Edelstein will map the test well locations in more detail. Lou now turns his attention to another county . . . stay tuned. In fairness to the USGS – they set out to show where the Utica might be productive. Not where it would be economic. And they relied primarily on core samples – not the latest test well results, some of which had been FOIL’d. Two caveats that Lou would agree with:
1. We do not have the well logs. We do not know what the logs show, we just know the well was abandoned. A driller would typically encounter a significant mud kick if the well hits a gas pocket. Meaning the drilling mud – the fluid circulated in the well bore to keep the drilling bit cool and remove the drill cuttings – would kick back up the well bore – if it hits strata with a lot of gas. The Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas is notorious for that – when the mud kicks hard – you are there. A big kick would be recorded in the drilling record. And the drillers keep those drilling logs like Dead Sea Scrolls – forever. We do not have the well logs or the drilling logs – but the drillers would – and the drillers – namely Gastem – put their 23,000 acres up for sale and left the county after they tested the Utica.
2. Prospecting will continue. Wildcat wells will be drilled all over the state. So get those town ordinances passed. Pronto.
Utica Shale – Not So Sweet Spot
Gas Wells Completed in Otsego County
L. W. Allstadt 10/3/2012
The well data for Otsego County suggests anything but a Utica shale “sweet spot”. The USGS analysis of the Utica shale seems to include areas that have very low EURs. The minimum needed to be included in the sweet spot is 0.2 billion cubic feet of gas estimated to be ultimately recoverable. At $5 gas such a well would produce only $1 million total revenue. That is hardly enough to cover the cost of the well. Even at $10-15 gas the economics would be difficult to justify drilling. The average well included in the hot spot has 0.619 billion cubic feet EUR. That average well would produce about $3 million worth of gas over the life of the well at $5 gas. Again, that is not nearly enough to justify drilling. See table 1 in the USGS update for more details on how they calculated the “not so Sweet Spot”.
Any areas where the top of the Utica formation is less than 2000 feet would not be drillable under the DEC’s dSGEIS. To get data for the top of the Utica formation it is necessary to add the formation thickness to the formation depth and interpolate the curves. That shifts the depth curves to the south in the county (The old maps show the favorable areas further north than they should be). There is also a practical minimum depth to achieve sufficient pressure – that is probably around 4000 feet.
Since 1952, the earliest date for which the DEC reports gas well data in Otsego County, there have been 13 gas wells completed in the County. All of these wells were vertical wells and all were “plugged and abandoned”.
The ten earlier wells are all described as “dry wildcats” (dry meaning that no commercial quantities of gas were encountered and wildcat meaning that these were exploration wells with little or no information available from nearby wells). Even without fracking in the shale layers, there would have been short periods of high pressure if enough gas had been present. (This would have been recorded in the drilling log. JLN)
The three most recent wells are described as “Gas Development Wells”, based on the information provided by Gastem, the operator. A development well is normally defined as a well drilled to a known producing formation in an existing oil field. It is a well drilled within the proved production field or area of an oil or gas reservoir to the depth of a stratigraphic horizon known to be productive. It could be argued that these three wells were really wildcats, similar to all the other wells in the county as there had been no successful wells in the area previously. Gas was only produced briefly, for ten days, from one of those wells. That well produced for the ten days at a rate of 35 mcfd according to the DEC data, which would be worth about $100 per day (less than $40,000 dollars a year) at $3.00 per mcf. Gastem’s three wells were also plugged and abandoned, and little has been heard from the company since. (Note: Gastem put all of their Otsego County acreage up for sale with no takers. JLN)
The County has been fairly covered with test wells during the last 60 years with one well each in the towns of Burlington, Cherry Valley, Laurens, Morris, Pittsfield, Springfield, Unadilla and Worcester and four in the Town of Maryland. A few other wells were started but never completed and provide no useful data.
The following table contains direct excerpts from the New York State DEC Searchable Well Data Base. The last column is estimated based on the layers that a well would likely pass through to reach the total depth. Latitude/Longitude coordinates for each well are provided in the DEC’s database for anyone with an interest in mapping the exact locations. (Note: Karen Edelstein is in the process of mapping test wells in Otsego and Chenango County. JLN)
GAS WELLS COMPLETED IN OTSEGO COUNTY
|Town||Well Name||Company Name||Well Type||Well Status||Well Completion||Drilled Depth||Shale likely tested*|
|Morris||Matteson Emma 1||Blue Rock Drilling||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||12/15/1952||2450||Marcellus|
|Worcester||Lum Paul B et al 1||NYS Natural Gas Corp.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||2/3/1961||5511||Marcellus and Utica|
|Maryland||Baum Edwin F Sr 1||NYS Natural Gas Corp.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||2/15/1963||3406||Marcellus|
|Maryland||Russ W G 1||NYS Natural Gas Corp.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||9/30/1963||3526||Marcellus|
|Maryland||Burkard Ludwig et al 1||NYS Natural Gas Co.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||1/8/1965||5118||Marcellus and Utica|
|Burlington||Schwerd Frederick W 1||CNG Transmission Corp.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||11/5/1973||2723||Marcellus|
|Morris||Bellows 1||Amoco Production Co.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||5/20/1974||3980||Marcellus and Utica|
|Laurens||Hoose 1||Amoco Production Co.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||6/15/1974||5824||Marcellus and Utica|
|Unadilla||Johnson 1||Amoco Production Co.||Dry Wildcat||Plugged and Abandoned||6/26/1974||5839||Marcellus and Utica|
|Springfield||Pullis 1||Gastem USA Inc.||Gas Development||Plugged and Abandoned||7/28/2007||2605||Marcellus and Utica|
|Cherry Valley||Sheckells 1||Gastem USA Inc.||Gas Development||Plugged and Abandoned||9/27/2007||2950||Marcellus and Utica|
|Maryland||Ross 1||Gastem USA Inc.||Gas Development||Plugged and Abandoned||11/11/2009||4950||Marcellus and Utica|
*Based on DEC well data when reported or SGEIS depth charts. LWA 10/3/2012