The executive director of the Ohio Petroleum Council said Trumbull County is at least 18 months away from any drilling or oil and gas production.
But not to worry - the Utica Shale will likely be producing for as long as 300 years, he said.
"If this thing were a baby, it'd be about six months old. This thing is really in its infancy," Terry Fleming said.
Some geologists say there could be at least 20 to 60 years worth of production in the Utica, while other experts cite much longer periods of time, he said. He also said there is an estimated 4 billion barrels worth of oil in the Utica Shale.
But it will be a while before any energy sources are coming out of the ground. The process from permit to fracking can take up to three years, Fleming said.
First, a site must be cleared, then infrastructure and pipelines are laid, Fleming said. Next is pre-drilling water testing before a drilling rig is brought in. Test wells are then drilled to determine the best placement of the rig for optimum production.
Finally a production well is drilled. Then the concrete casing is poured. Another drill bore is inserted to drill horizontally in order for hydraulic fracturing to commence. Then the actual extraction process can finally begin.
Currently, two drilling companies have permits to operate in Trumbull County.
CONSOL Energy subsidiary CNX Gas Company was permitted on April 16 to drill at the Wollam Farm property along Warner Road and Warren Sharon Road in Vienna Township. CNX signed a road maintenance agreement with Trumbull County, posted a $100,000 road bond and certified $1 million in liability insurance. The road improvements concluded two weeks ago.
Houston-based Carrizo Oil and Gas was permitted in May in Hartford for the Brugler property along Hayes Orangeville Road across from Joseph Badger Meadows church camp.
Also, BP signed highly publicized lease deals in recent months with more than 1,000 Trumbull County landowners covering more than 84,000 acres. BP is still verifying the leases and no activity is expected until next year.
Fleming said that companies like BP are the right companies to have around because of their experience and their financial resources.
"They have the money to do this thing and do it right," he said.
But not all Valley residents are inclined to agree. The Rev. Monica Beasley-Martin of Liberty participated in recent protests against BP through her organization, Defenders of the Earth Outreach Ministries, and her affiliations with OhioFracktion, Frackfree Mahoning, Frackfree Ohio and Frackfree America.
"All the studies state that sooner or later the well is going to leak, and once it leaks, and if it gets into the water, there are going to be problems.
There are already problems, there are hundreds of cases," she said. "We see what happened at the Gulf. And once it happened, it's really very difficult to clean it up."
Senate Bill 315 recently was signed into law by Gov. John Kasich, amending some of Ohio's policies on drilling and injection wells.
"(Now) if ODNR decides to let them put in a well, and the people don't want the well, we really don't have the right to appeal that, though the industry has the right to appeal if a permit is denied," Beasley-Martin said.
The Ohio Environmental Council argues that the bill fails in many areas. "The so-called Road Use Maintenance Agreements ... seems to be a weak provision. By allowing well owners to submit an affidavit swearing they tried hard to negotiate a fair agreement with local officials is a potential loophole which should be watched closely and closed at the first opportunity."
The council also cites a regulation that allows companies to maintain proprietary discretion on trade secrets with regard to chemicals used in the fracking process, and whether 1,500 feet from the well site is a sufficient radius for water testing.
Fleming counters that the bill has "the strongest set of regulations in the country, bar none.''
Plus, fracking has been going on for decades and if it is unsafe, the OEC and similar environmental groups should be ashamed they didn't make the public aware of it much sooner, Fleming said.