UTICA — Drive past the Utica shale well site on the Sensibaugh farm just outside of Utica and you won’t see anything right now.
Just a couple weeks ago, the site was lit up at night, the drilling pad was full of equipment, a trailer for security officers was parked at the entrance to the access road and trucks were coming and going.
All that is gone, but work is not finished at the site. The well is simply waiting to be “fracked.”
According to Devon Energy representative Chip Minty, the well will be fracked sometime in June. He doesn’t know a date.
Minty explained that the fracking team will bring in its equipment and set up a pump to get water from the North Fork of the Licking River. Devon has said that it will use about 3 million gallons of water for the fracking process.
The fracking process does not take very long, maybe up to 10 days, and the tanks, trucks and equipment needed for the fracking will be brought in. The pressure creates cracks in the oil- or gas-bearing formation and the sand keeps the cracks open so the oil or gas can flow out.
The process is also sometime referred to “stimulating” a well.
A pump that had been sitting beside the river is gone, but that was probably the drilling company’s property, Minty said.
Once the fracking is done, the company will simply wait while the flowback period takes place.
The flowback period is when part of the fracking fluid — a mixture of water, sand and chemicals, returns to the surface and must be collected and properly disposed of in a licensed injection well or recycled.
Devon’s Ashland County well has already been fracked and is in the flowback period, Minty said.
Although Devon has a permit to drill another well in Morgan Township, Minty said the company has not decided on its next drilling site. It is evaluating data from the three wells it has drilled (Utica, Ashland County and Medina County) in deciding its next step.
“We expect to resume drilling later this summer,” Minty said. “We’re evaluating options and establishing a plan for going forward.”