By Jim Mackinnon
Beacon Journal business writer
William Kinney thinks there’s a bright future in developing shale energy resources in Ohio and other parts of the United States.
Kinney founded Summit Petroleum Inc., a Twinsburg oil-and-gas business that operates conventional and fracked wells in Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York.
And he is this year’s winner of the Oilfield Patriot Award, given last month by the Ohio Oil and Gas Association. The award recognizes people who “protect, promote and advance the common interests” of Ohio’s crude oil and natural gas industry.
“It’s awarded by my peers in the industry,” said Kinney, 61, a Hudson resident. “This Oilfield Patriot Award is a high point of my career. It is a big deal.”
Kinney, who founded Summit Petroleum in 1984, is a former president of the Ohio Oil & Gas Association.
Based on his industry experience and what he sees now, Ohio is just coming out of the “first inning” in tapping the Utica shale, Kinney said. Wells are continuing to be drilled, with production lagging, he said.
While industry interest now is in the so-called “wet gas” coming from the Utica shale in the southeastern part of the state, Kinney said he thinks the deep underground reserves will also start producing oil in significant quantities.
“The real oil leg has not been defined,” he said. “It will roll out. It will be more western and more northern.”
He expects the Utica shale will develop real wealth in the state, similar to Ohio’s oil history. Jobs won’t be just in the oil and gas industry but will be generated by the hundreds of millions of dollars that the shale reserves are expected to spin off, he said. In addition, the jobs-producing infrastructure needed to support Utica shale well production is just starting to be put into place, he said.
The fracking of the Utica shale and other shales around the nation was not supposed to be the answer to America’s energy future but appears to be just that, he said. That development has created what he called misplaced anger among environmentalists who oppose developing shale in favor of other noncarbon energy sources, he said.
“The drilling and fracking is not unconventional. The quantities you can produce by that is unconventional,” he said. The industry still needs regulations and oversight to ward off environmental problems and other issues, he said.
The shale resources being developed are not infinite but likely will continue to generate significant quantities of oil, natural gas and related liquids for a longer period than some critics expect, Kinney said. Significant decline rates at newly fracked wells, where production falls off deeply after the first year, likely will be mitigated by additional drilling and technological advances, Kinney said.
“It can go on for a very long time,” he said. “I have some wells that were drilled in the ’40s that produce 100 barrels a month,” he said. Major oil companies will come to Ohio, drill and tap wells and then sell to companies such as his when production tails off, he said.
“I have bought wells as companies moved on. That’s the nature of the industry,” Kinney said.
He expects that the technology involved in the fracking and horizontal drilling of shale will be used in conventional oil fields, extending their productive life spans as well.
The continued development of conventional and unconventional petroleum reserves will blur, making it hard to differentiate the two, he said.
“There’s a lot of iterations to go forward on this,” Kinney said. “One hundred years of natural gas may be overstated but may not.”
Jim Mackinnon can be reached at 330-996-3544 or firstname.lastname@example.org.