Chesapeake Energy plans to lease space in downtown Canton as it sets up its initial offices here. The company plans to employ more than 70 people, and predicts the number will grow.
Chesapeake Energy will use downtown Canton as a center of operations in its bid to extract oil and natural gas from the Utica shale formation that lies under eastern Ohio.
The company has leased space in the Cornerstone Building at 400 Third St. SE, next to the Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation offices, where it will set up a field office.
The office already is open, and Chesapeake hopes to have more than 70 employees there. It will serve as home base for the company’s oil and natural gas development in Stark and neighboring counties.
Chesapeake calls the location its “first phase in building a strong, regional workforce.” The office will serve as an interim facility while Chesapeake searches for a permanent field office.
“We are very pleased to join the downtown Canton business community and to be able to bring jobs and business investment to Ohio,” said Keith Fuller, director of corporate development and a native of New Philadelphia. “We look forward to being a part of the community and spurring business growth for years to come.”
SHALE A SPECIALTY
Chesapeake, based in Oklahoma City, specializes in drilling shale rock formations. The company uses horizontal drilling to reach and penetrate the rock. A process called hydraulic fracturing — also known as fracking — involves forcing a slurry of water, sand and chemicals into a well under pressure, breaking the rock and releasing trapped hydrocarbons.
The company has spent the past year developing business operations in eastern Ohio. There has been speculation for several months that Canton would serve as an center of operations for the company.
At the end of July, Chesapeake announced that its research of the Utica shale indicated the formation is “liquids rich,” which means oil and wet gas have been found. Based on those findings, Chesapeake estimates its Utica shale interests could be worth $15 billion to $20 billion in increased value.
In a conference call with stock analysts, Chief Executive Officer Aubrey McClendon said he expects the Utica shale in eastern Ohio to become one of Chesapeake’s most important areas.
READY TO DRILL
When Chesapeake and other energy companies began buying mineral rights in Ohio, most believed the companies planned to drill the Marcellus shale, a formation that is producing natural gas at wells in northeast and southwest Pennsylvania, as well as in West Virginia.
But companies believe they will find more success with the Utica formation, which is about 250 feet thick and lies about 6,500 feet underground.
Since last summer, Chesapeake has acquired drilling rights to 1.25 million acres in Ohio, and is seeking more leases.
This year it has received nearly 50 permits from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to drill horizontal and vertical wells, with more than 40 of the permits for the Utica shale. The company has five rigs operating in Ohio, but said Thursday that it expects activity to increase over the next few years.
Page 2 of 2 - Most of Chesapeake’s permits are for wells in Carroll County, and the company already has one producing horizontal well in Augusta Township, according to ODNR records. Chesapeake recently received permits for a horizontal and a vertical well at site in Osnaburg Township, and ODNR records indicate the company has started drilling at a site just north of Congress Lake in Portage County’s Suffield Township.