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Pennsylvania NatGas Production Holds Up in February

Unconventional natural gas production in Pennsylvania was about 356 Bcf in February, or nearly 12.7 Bcf/d, essentially flat from January when production from the Marcellus Shale and other formations was 12.6 Bcf/d, according to the latest data released by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Despite a shorter month, however, natural gas liquids production in February was up slightly from January, going from 416,000 bbl to 434,000 bbl (see Shale Daily, April 1). Unconventional operators in the state began reporting monthly production in April after lawmakers passed a bill last year that requires them to submit production data up to 45 days after the end of the month rather than twice a year (see Shale Daily, Oct. 21, 2014).

Susquehanna, Bradford and Lycoming counties in the northeast part of the state continued to be Pennsylvania's top-producing counties along with Washington and Greene counties in the southwest.

Shale drillers in the state produced more than 4 Tcf of natural gas last year (see Shale Daily, Feb. 17). January and February data are already running above the average 11.5 Bcf/d reported during the last six months of 2014.

State records, however, show that unconventional permits in the state dropped 30% in the first quarter compared to the year-ago period. As commodity prices have plunged, producers in the region have retreated by cutting capital expenditures and idling rigs.

In neighboring Ohio, some recent weeks have shown no new horizontal permitting at all, according to state data. But while production isn't expected to grow as rapidly as it has in recent years, analysts still expect incremental growth in Lower 48 gas production, with a peak in the second quarter and early into the third for a slight decline through the rest of the year and heading into 2016, according to one recent analysis from Genscape Inc. (see Shale Daily, March 20).

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