Delays in the construction of pipelines and processing plants have put Gulfport Energy’s Utica Shale drilling four months behind schedule, but the company plans to accelerate exploration this year.
Most of Gulfport’s wells are in Harrison County, followed by Belmont and Guernsey counties, according to the latest numbers from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The Oklahoma City-based company released its first quarter results Wednesday, posting a $44.6 million net income, up from $26.9 million during the same quarter last year.
Officials said the company produced 575,543 barrels of oil equivalent in the first quarter, with 72,134 BOE from the Utica Shale.
Gulfport has 128,000 acres under lease in the Utica Shale region of Ohio. State statistics show Gulfport has 50 wells in various stages of development, second to Chesapeake Energy’s 401 wells.
This year, Gulfport will spend about $500 million on exploration in Utica Shale, six times what the company has budgeted for any other region. Gulport plans to drill up to 60 Utica wells as it increases to seven horizontal rigs, from the current three rigs.
Although production has been challenged by a delay in connecting wells to pipelines, results indicate “now is the time to accelerate our drilling,” CEO James Palm said.
The company reported that its first 14 Utica wells averaged an initial rate of 3,055 BOE per day, with a mix of 36 percent natural gas, 28 percent natural gas liquids and 36 percent heavier condensate.
“Gulfport’s position in the heart of the Utica wet gas window could yield performance results on par with the most attractive shale plays,” according to the company’s investor presentation.
The company said it has nine wells flowing into the sales pipeline, with plans to add four more wells by mid-June. Denver-based MarkWest Energy PartnersMarkWest Energy Partners is developing pipelines and processing facilities for Gulfport.
Near Cadiz in Harrison County, MarkWest and Texas-based Energy & Minerals Group are building a facility to gather and process liquid natural gas. The facility already has agreements with four drilling companies to process their product.