Fracking Sparks Oil Boom in Ohio

Nearly a century ago, the state of Ohio produced nearly a third of the nation’s crude oil and spawned the creation of John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company, though the oil dried up decades ago and Standard was broken up by the Supreme Court in 1911. But the recent development of a new drilling technology is allowing Ohio to regain its post as a major oil producer. Major oil companies including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Anadarko and others have invested billions in the Buckeye State, with the intention of releasing oil trapped in shale rock well below the ground.

The new production relies on the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for short, entails injecting pressurized water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to crack the shale, allowing the oil or gas to flow. The process has led to a new energy boom across the United States, but has alarmed activists who are concerned about ground water contamination or causing earthquakes.

According to analysts, Ohio could be producing as much as 200,000 barrels of oil a day by the year 2020, if the supply is properly developed. While that would pale in comparison to the 1.4 million barrels produced by operations in Texas, it would make Ohio the sixth largest oil-producing state in the country and could create as many as 200,000 jobs and half a billion dollars in tax revenue in just the next five years. The trick will be for regulators to pass legislation that allows the vast oil source to be tapped without causing the contamination that has occurred in some states where fracking has been left unchecked.