The waterless fracking well tested in eastern Ohio has produced disappointing results, dealing a blow to the innovative technology that could help use less water in oil and gas operations and open up Ohio’s oil window.
The $22 million test well, drilled by EV Energy Partners LP (NASDAQ:EVEP) and eight other companies in Tuscarawas County, has produced for 90 days. The well, called Nettles, produced half the amount of oil as a nearby well fracked using a lot of water, EV Chairman John Walker told analysts in an earnings call.
"We clearly have work left to do in the volatile oil window to determine its economic potential," he said, "but are separately making progress working toward a drilling joint venture to provide the capital for drilling a portion of our operated Utica wet gas window acreage."
A typical Utica well is in the $6.5 million to $8 million range, said director Ken Mariani. “So the $22 million obviously was a significant incremental cost over a more traditional completion,” he said. However, because the well flows back hydrocarbons, not water, that can be resold, the actual cost might be closer to $15 million, he said.
Waterless fracking isn’t over. Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK), the biggest oil and gas driller in Ohio, is testing waterless fracking and EV Energy Partners said it’ll continue testing the Nettles well, specifically to evaluate the quality of the shale rock.
EV and its partners worked with Canadian company GasFrac Energy Services Inc. to frack with a mix of 75 percent liquid butane and 25 percent mineral oil. Oil and gas companies think using water in oily areas of the Utica shale play causes risk or damage which in turn reduces well productivity.
Others are hopeful to find a waterless fracking method to help reduce the large amounts used.
Tom Knox, Columbus Business First, May 12, 2015. “Ohio waterless fracking well's output lagging”.http://www.bizjournals.com/columbus/blog/ohio-energy-inc/2015/05/ohio-waterless-fracking-wells-output-lagging.html.