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Cold Spell Boosts Prices For Natural Gas

Natural gas prices rose this week as temperatures remain below freezing in much of the Great Lakes and Northeast United States. The demand for natural gas is positive news for shale drillers in eastern Ohio. Higher prices for the fuel generally helps energy companies recover more quickly the costs of production. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says shale gas development in Ohio is meeting earlier projections. "We predicted that by the end of this year we'd have 625 wells drilled. We're at 627," says Mark Bruce with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Bruce keeps track of shale development in Ohio. He says while 627 wells are drilled only 250 of those wells have been brought online and are producing either natural gas or oil. Bruce says more than 1,000 well permits have been issued in the state's Utica and Macellus shale region. As a result, the regulatory agency has recently tripled the number of well inspectors from 17 to 50. "As we're hiring these new people we're assigning them mentors, so they can learn and understand, you know, not only how you, the proper way to go about this well and the proper way to look and what you're looking for but also how to deal with people, how to deal with neighbors and answer citizen concerns." Bruce adds that energy companies were required to report oil and gas production yearly. Beginning next month, the companies will have to file quarterly production reports for the state.