Bob Downing

Ohio currently has 47 horizontal wells drilled into the Utica shale, but that number is expected to grow to 250 by the end of this year, to 750 by the end of 2013, 1,500 by the end of 2014 and 2,250 by the end of 2015.


That assessment came this week from James Zehringer, head of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in testimony in favor of Senate Bill 315 that tightens Ohio's rules on drilling..


It goes beyond Senate Bill 165 that last overhauled drilling rules.


Ohio, he said, is "well positioned to deal with current levels of oil and gas development. However, in light of this enormous potential growth in drilling activity, we have a responsibility to put in place regulatory safeguards and staffing that will bolster citizen confidence and protect our environment. Failing to do so would jeopardize the substantial economic impact of this emerging industry before it gets started.


"What we are proposing in Senate Bill 315 are common sense measures that incorporate many industry best practices. We have the benefit of studying the successes and missteps of those who have gone before us. We've learned what works and what does not.


"Let me say this plainly: If Ohioans lose confidence in our ability to protect public health and safety, this potential boom will fizzle."


The Kasich administration wants tow things: codified, clear and transparent regulations and enough personnel to enforce those rules, Zehringer said.


Ohio conferred with officials in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, North Dakota and Colorado, he said.


You can Zehringer's seven pages of testimony at the Utica shale blog of a Columbus law firem, Bricker & Eckler LLP. It's one of the best and newsiest shale blogs in Ohio. Click here for the testimony. The blog is at www.shaleohio.com