What the frack? Ohio drilling falls short of expectations

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A newspaper reports that injection drilling in Ohio hasn't met the initial expectations of state officials this year.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials had told state legislators in March that as many as 250 of the natural-gas and oil wells would be drilled in eastern Ohio Utica shale by the end of the year.

But state records show that only 165 wells have been completed, with 22 more being drilled.

Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, tells the newspaper that the pace has been slowed by low natural-gas prices and a backlog in the work needed to connect the wells to customers.

Nevertheless, Ohio Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Heidi Hetzel-Evans says permitting remains steady.

Some of the drilling is done using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing – or "fracking" — which uses pressurized, chemical-laced water pumped underground to drill for oil and gas. Fracking has been tied to a dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio, and environmental activists allege it poses a threat to watersheds.

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