THERE HAS been a Bigfoot sighting in Eastern Ohio. It has spawned no fear or concern. Rather, it is one being embraced by all sectors of the community.
Bigfoot is the first Utica Shale well of Rice Energy. It is located in Richland Township, east of Barkcamp State Park on Ohio 149, and it is pumping economic viability into Belmont County and surrounding areas.
Rice Energy is a Pennsylvania-based production company that has proven a major economic ally to Belmont County. In recent months, Rice has delivered two $3 million checks to county commissioners.
Commissioners have made prudent use of the windfall, paying down on county debt and paving roads among other things. Thanks to Bigfoot, many more checks are looming in the county's future.
In just the first five days of operation, Bigfoot settled in at a production flow rate of nearly 42 million cubic feet per day. That amount is the best ever for a Utica Shale well.
Rice Energy expects selling the gas in July.
A valve-turning ceremony was held Thursday at the Bigfoot well. The symbolic celebration is hopefully a harbinger of prosperous times for both Rice Energy and Belmont County.
The large numbers flowing out of Bigfoot reinforces the belief that oil and gas is going to revitalize the Eastern Ohio economy. Rice has other well sites in the county in addition to Bigfoot. Moreover, Rice is joined by other shale companies throughout the region.
The drilling business has already been a nice shot-in-the-arm to our area. However, it may be just a drop in the bucket to what may be coming down the pipelines in the near future.