Ohio's Utica shale came up for discussion at Cheapeake Energy Corp.'s Feb. 22 earnings call with investors.
CEO Aubrey McClendon told investors that the company is pleased that its is reducing the time needed to drill horizontal wells in eastern Ohio from 40 to 45 days to 16 days.
And that sharply reduces costs, he said.
The price of a typical well may drop to $5.5 million to $6 million, he said.
The company expects to have 20 rigs operating by late 2012.
It currently has eight rigs operating in the Utica shale: six in the liquid-rich wet area and , one each in the dry gas and oil areas.
The liquid-rich area produces ethane, propane and butane, in addition to gas. It is especially attractive to drillers now, when the price of natural gas is so low.
The company said it has lease rights on about 400,000 acres in the natural gas-only area and another 400,000 acres in the oil area.
Of the Utica shale, he said, "We love this play, and we're very excited about what we've seen to date."
He added, "The gas is going to work when gas prices get a little better. And then on the oil side, we hope to have some breakthroughs this year as well and hope others in the industry do also."
McClendon said the company has held back development in the gas area and the company has not drilled enough wells in the oil area to determine how rich the Ohio area might be, he said.
Both areas will be developed, he said.
The company is getting inquiries from potential partners interested in working with Chesapeake in those areas, he said.
The company, he said, is "100percent confident on the wet gas, 100 percent confident on the dry gas. It's the oil that we haven't yet fully proved up how much of that is going to be prospective."
Chesapeake has locked up a core around the liquid-rich area, but other operators on the fringes will also benefit, he said.
Chesapeake reported positive results from two additional wells in Carroll County.
In an earnings report, company officials said the two wells produced a peak average rate of 700 barrels of oil and 3 million cubic feet of natural gas per day.
Last August, Chesapeake offered data from four wells: three in Ohio and one in western Pennsylvania.
Those five wells offer the first data on production in Ohio.
The company said it has added 200 miles of natural gas pipelines in Ohio and expects to add another 200 miles in 2012.
Chesapeake Energy Corp,the Oklahoma-based firm is the No. 1 driller in Ohio.
Rig Count Interactive Map by Baker Hughes, an energy services company.
Shale Sheet Fracking, a Youngstown Vindicator blog.
The Ohio Environmental Council, a statewide eco-group based in Columbus.
Earthjustice, a national eco-group.
People's Oil and Gas Collaborative-Ohio, a grass-roots group in Northeast Ohio.
Concerned Citizens of Medina County, a grass-roots group.
No Frack Ohio, a Columbus-based grass-roots group.
Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat by ProPublica, an online journalism site.
Pipeline, blog from Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Marcellus shale drilling.
Allegheny Front, environmental public radio for Western Pennsylvania.