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Horizontal Wells

The Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management (DOGRM) is responsible for regulating all aspects of oil and gas drilling and production. A strong regulatory framework enables the division to ensure the safety of public health, safety, and the environment. This framework is continuously reviewed and updated to accommodate the ever-changing technologies of oil and natural gas drilling.

The first unconventional horizontal shale wells were drilled in Ohio in 2010-2011 and DOGRM has worked to effectively regulate this activity through enhanced rules and regulations, new programs and increased staff. 

Water Well Sampling

For horizontal wells, all water wells within 1,500 feet of the proposed wellhead are required to be sampled and the results of the sampling must be submitted to the division prior to the commencement of drilling. Modern oil and gas well drilling is a highly technical and closely monitored process with regulations in place to protect underground sources of drinking water during and after the drilling process. The chance of ground water contamination or loss of water due to oil and gas well drilling is very small.

Best management practices for pre-drilling water sampling

Well Pad Construction

Well pad construction is regulated for horizontal wells by the Division's Engineering section. 

Protection of Groundwater Resources

During drilling, a series of steel casings are inserted into the wellbore and sealed with cement to protect and isolate specific zones. The cemented casings ensure that the fluid to be pumped through the well during hydraulic fracturing, and the subsequent oil and gas produced over the life of the well, remains isolated from the underground sources of drinking water.

Casing and cement specifications and processes are based on scientifically-based industry standards and best practices. Division inspectors place a high priority on witnessing critical phases of well construction and cementing to verify proper installation.

The depth of Ohio's freshwater aquifers, including underground sources of drinking water, are mapped. Using these maps, the Division's permitting geologists verify that steel-and-cement casing programs are designed to protect groundwater resources.

Water Withdrawal and Use

Water is used for various reasons including support purposes such as controlling dust on access roads and cleaning equipment; operational purposes as a component in drilling fluid and cement; and for well stimulation (i.e. hydraulic fracturing). When applying for a permit, well owners are required to disclose the estimated volume of water and the source of the water for use in the drilling and completion of the well.

Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing is an engineered, extensively monitored process, in which fluids are pumped at a pressure sufficient to create fractures in rock that are connected to a wellbore. When used by the oil and gas industry, hydraulic fracturing allows oil and natural gas trapped in the rock formations to flow to the surface to be used for a variety of purposes. 

Hydraulic fracture has been used for more than 60 years in Ohio to stimulate oil and gas production and more than 80,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured in the state. The Division has conducted water well investigations in response to citizen complains since 1983 and none have revealed groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing.

Chemical Disclosure

Ohio law requires well owners to submit information regarding completion of the well, including fluids used to stimulate the well. The law allows owners to submit information through a chemical disclosure registry called FracFocus. FracFocus is the national hydraulic fracturing chemical registry. It is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission – two organizations whose members are state government officials. Both organizations’ missions are focused on conservation and environmental protection. This site was created to provide the general public with access to information about chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Additionally, the law requires the Division to post Safety Data Sheets (SDS) on our website for materials listed with well completion information filed with the Division.

Safety Data Sheets contain information about the characteristics and actual or potential hazards of a substance. Generally, an SDS for a material is not primarily intended for use by the general consumer but is designed for hazard identification for working with the material in an occupational setting. Inclusion of these SDS on our web site provides for added transparency as to materials used during the completion of wells in Ohio.