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Oil, NatGas Production, DUCs in Big Seven Plays Still Declining, EIA Says

Oil and natural gas production from the nation's seven largest unconventional plays, as well as the number of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells in them is expected to decrease slightly in November, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In its latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Monday, EIA said it expects total oil production out of the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian and Utica plays to decline 30,000 b/d in November to 4.43 million b/d, compared with 4.46 million b/d in October.

Only the Permian Basin will see an increase in oil production, reaching a projected 2.01 million b/d in November, compared with 1.98 million b/d in October, according to EIA calculations.

The agency forecast oil production out of the Bakken Shale in November to be 946,000 b/d, compared with 967,000 b/d in October, with significant declines also expected in the Eagle Ford Shale (947,000 b/d, compared to 982,000 b/d). Marginal declines are also expected in the Haynesville and Niobrara shales, while oil production out of the Marcellus and Utica shales is expected to remain unchanged.

As it has several times this year, EIA said it expects the biggest decline in natural gas production to be in the Eagle Ford, with the agency forecasting 5.63 Bcf/d in November, down 183 MMcf/d from 5.81 Bcf/d this month. Total gas production out of the seven plays is calculated to decline to 45.96 Bcf/d in November, compared with 46.14 in October.

Declines are also expected in the Bakken (1.63 Bcf/d, compared with 1.65 Bcf/d), Haynesville (5.79 Bcf/d, compared with 5.84 Bcf/d), Niobrara (4.09 Bcf/d, compared with 4.14 Bcf/d) and Utica (3.59 Bcf/d, compared with 3.60 Bcf/d). But two plays should see upticks in natural gas production next month, EIA said: the Marcellus (18.19 Bcf/d, compared with 18.12 Bcf/d in October) and the Permian (7.04 Bcf, compared with 6.99 Bcf/d).

EIA released its first Drilling Productivity Report in October 2013 (see Shale Daily, Oct. 22, 2013) but didn't forecast month-to-month production declines until September 2015 (see Shale Daily, Sept. 15, 2015; April 13, 2015). Since then, the agency's production forecasts have followed a steady downward trend (see Shale Daily, Sept. 12; Aug. 15; July 19). The seven regions during 2011-2014 accounted for 92% of domestic oil production growth and all gas production growth.

DUC counts as of the end of September totaled 4,144 in the four oil-dominant regions -- Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara -- down six from August, EIA said. There also were 925 DUCs in the three gas-dominant regions -- Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica -- a decline of 21. An increase of 52 DUCs in the Permian was outweighed by declines in the three other oil-dominant regions.

The productivity of new oil wells in the plays is expected to improve slightly in November. On a rig-weighted average basis, oil production per rig will be 632 b/d, compared to 630 b/d this month, according to the DPR. At the same time, new-well gas production per rig in the plays will increase, from 2.79 MMcf/d in October to 2.95 MMcf/d in November, EIA said.

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