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The mid-eastern states are the southern half of the northeastern United States and include Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia. Drilling activity, as measured by completions received during the year, increased in just 2 of these states in 1983. Overall, 10,963 wells were reported as completed, down only 1.8% from 1982. Exploratory completions, however, were down 28.7%. Footage drilled increased 5.2%, as increases in Ohio and West Virginia offset a large decrease in Pennsylvania. Wells reported as gas producers decreased 10.2%, whereas new wells capable of producing oil (oil plus combination wells) increased 5.9%. This same trend was reflected in production: gas production decreased 3.5%, whereas oil production increased 4.9%.
For the second year in a row, no wells were drilled in Maryland, although 1 permit was issued to drill a new-field wildcat in Garrett County. In addition, 1 of Maryland's 3 gas fields went off production, and wells in the 2 remaining fields were shut in during the third quarter of the year. Thus, gas production decreased 13.5%. One new lease play began as brokers attempted to acquire blocks of acreage over suspected buried Triassic basins southeast of Washington, D.C.
The most notable increase in activity was reported in Ohio, where drilling operations increased 32.0%, setting a new record for completions with 6,260. Many of these, however, were wells drilled in 1982 but not reported until 1983. For the wells reported, footage drilled increased 36.2%, even though drilling continued to be dominated by shallow (3,536 ft/well) wells, mostly to the Lower Silurian Clinton-Medina section (74.5% of all wells). Combination oil and gas wells accounted for 63.9% of all new producers, and overall success rates were high (93.0%). Exploratory activity decreased 18.0% from 1982, and only 3.8% of all new wells were classified as exploratory. Oil production increased 2.7%, and gas production increased by 9.3%.
Pennsylvania reported significant decreases in drilling activity (39.9%) and in the amount of footage drilled (43.2%). Exploratory activity also decreased significantly, as completions were down 43.0%, exploratory footage down 40.8%, and seismic activity down 30.6%. Success rates, however, continued to be high (97.4%), not only for all wells but also for exploratory wells (87.7%) and deep wells (96.9%). Deep drilling decreased 43.5% and was concentrated in several northwestern counties where Lower Silurian Medina Group reservoirs continued to be developed. Shallow drilling also decreased (39.1%), and again was dominated by attempts to develop both oil and gas pools in the Upper Devonian Venango and Bradford Groups. Oil production increased 4.9%, but gas production decreased 2.3%.
A significant decrease in activity was noted in Virginia where completions were down 62.0% in 1983. Footage drilled decreased 65.3%, and exploratory completions decreased 46.7%. The overall success rate was 63.2%, nearly identical to the exploratory well success rate (62.5%). Drilling for oil in Ordovician carbonates from the Trenton to Knox accounted for more than half of the wells completed in 1983. The decline in overall activity was due to a decrease in the development of Mississippian and Devonian gas reservoirs. Oil production increased 32.4%, but gas production decreased 36.8%.
Drilling in West Virginia maintained the status quo. Completions were up only slightly (1.5%), and footage drilled increased just 4.7%. Exploratory completions decreased significantly (25.6%), but seismic activity increased (20.7%). The main exploratory programs were still concentrated in the broad Upper Devonian trend across northern West Virginia, searching for oil reservoirs in the western shale facies and gas reservoirs in eastern sandstone and siltstone equivalents. Interest was renewed in the search for deep Oriskany gas in the Eastern Overthrust belt. Deep drilling decreased 34.9%, and the success rate of deep wells (39.1%) was far below the overall average (92.9%). Although the state continues to be predominantly a gas-producing area, the number of new oil plus combination wel s increased 56.5%, whereas new gas completions decreased. These trends were reflected in production, where oil increased 16.2% while gas decreased 8.1%.
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