The Clinton Sand of Ohio

Pumping Unit at Sunset

Ohio Clinton Sandstone

Ohio’s first Clinton sandstone discoveries came in 1887 in Fairfield County. The discovery sparked natural gas and oil plays from high porosity Clinton fields located in the immediate area and later, in the City of Canton field. The Clinton exhibited good economic potential. However the Clinton generally displayed less than adequate permeability and usually required nitro-shot stimulation to produce economic production. By the late 1940’s, dry hole rates approached 50 percent and most oil and gas operators believed that the Clinton was played out.

During 1951, hydraulic fracturing stimulation of sandstone reservoirs met with success in Ohio. During a fracturing process, hydraulic pressure using water is applied to an oil and gas bearing rock to split the rock and create vertical drainage paths within the reservoir. These paths allow natural gas and oil to move more freely from the rock pores where they are trapped to the wellbore, where the product can then be lifted to the surface. As a result of fracturing, from 1951 through 1957 the Clinton success ratio increased to 85% completions and oil and gas producers renewed their interest in Clinton drilling.

Beginning in 1970 rising natural gas and oil prices, high demand for local supplies of natural gas, advances in fracturing technology, and the introduction in 1978 of the NGPA Section 107 “Tight Sands” incentive gas pricing and the Section 29 tax credit combined to create a massive drilling boom in the Clinton sands, as well as the Berea sands and Ohio Shale. Drilling activity within Eastern Ohio rivaled the early Trenton days. During the peak year of 1981, there were 6,085 wells drilled in Ohio, of which 76 percent were completed in the Clinton sandstone.

In 1986, the collapse of oil prices and stagnant natural gas prices challenged the survival of the Ohio industry. Even so, Ohio continued to be one of the more active drilling states. During challenging times, Ohio producers have been drilling deeper and taking on increased risks in a search for rocks that offer potential for higher rates of production. During the 1990′s, new opportunities of prolific oil and gas reserves were found in the deep Ordovician Knox Rose Run sands, the Beekmantown dolomite and the Trenton Black River. Even so, the overall success rate for exploratory deep drilling is less than 50 percent.