Some aging Ohio oil fields hold promise of reserves


COLUMBUS — While much attention is being placed on the development of Ohio’s shale oil and gas reserves, a new technical report released by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Geological Survey suggests that existing oil fields beneath eastern Ohio could potentially produce hundreds of millions of additional barrels of oil.

According to the report, the East Canton oil field has produced about 100 million barrels of oil (4.2 billion gallons), which geologists say is less than 10 percent of its potential reserves.


The Division of Geological Survey estimates that more than 1 billion barrels of oil remain in the ground in this field, a large portion of which could be recovered using carbon dioxide-assisted secondary recovery techniques.

These processes, commonly used in the western United States, extend a field’s productive life by injecting carbon dioxide (CO2) into the formation, displacing oil and driving it to a production wellbore.

Because of the geologic nature of the East Canton oil field reservoir rock — or “Clinton” sandstone — a CO2-assisted secondary recovery program might best produce additional oil reserves.

The recently released report shows the first results from a study, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy that examined the potential effectiveness of CO2-assisted secondary recovery in this formation.

Sandstone reservoirs

The results suggest that if fully employed this field alone could produce between 76 and 279 million barrels of additional oil. And there are many other “Clinton” sandstone reservoirs in the region.

“The East Canton field is nearing the end of its primary life,” said Larry Wickstrom, ODNR division chief and state geologist. “The original reservoir pressure is all but gone and extracting more oil is going to be difficult without secondary recovery. Now is the time to plan for such operations before the existing wells and infrastructure are abandoned.

“A number of technologies can be employed, from simple water floods to advanced polymer floods, but a CO2-assisted flood may hold the best efficiency for this particular reservoir.”

Oil field

Discovered in 1947, the East Canton oil field is Ohio’s largest, still-producing oil field and covers nearly 175,000 acres in Carroll, Harrison, Stark and Tuscarawas counties.

The sources for the CO2 needed for secondary recovery operations could come from nearby ethanol plants, steel mills, power plants, cement kilns, or even landfills. In addition to increasing oil production, such use of CO2 could reduce carbon emissions into the atmosphere.

A digital version of the report, OFR 2011-2, is available in PDF format as a free download from the Division of Geological Survey website: Due to its large file size, the report also is available on CD-ROM for $25 (plus sales tax and shipping). To order, contact the Geologic Records Center at 614-265-6576.


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