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NatGas Production From Big Seven Plays to Increase in January, EIA Says

Natural gas production from the nation's seven largest unconventional plays, which has been on a downward trend for more than a year, is expected to increase in January, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Total gas production out of the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian and Utica plays will be an estimated 47.51 Bcf/d in January, up from an estimated 47.42 Bcf/d this month, EIA said in its latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Monday.

Natural gas production increases are expected in the Haynesville (6.01 Bcf/d in January, compared with 5.99 Bcf/d in December), Marcellus (18.46 Bcf/d, compared with 18.30 Bcf/d) and Permian (7.48 Bcf/d, compared with 7.41 Bcf/d). Output from the Niobrara is expected to increase marginally to 4.30 Bcf/d, and Utica production is expected to be unchanged at 4.21 Bcf/d.

Those increases will outweigh a significant decline in the Eagle Ford (5.45 Bcf/d in January, compared with 5.61 Bcf this month) and a marginal decline in the Bakken (to 1.60 Bcf/d).

Total oil production out of the seven plays will be nearly unchanged in January, increasing just 2,000 b/d to 4.54 million b/d, according to the DPR.

EIA forecast January oil production out of the Permian (2.13 million b/d) and Niobrara (406,000 b/d) to be up slightly compared with December, and oil production out of the Marcellus (37,000 b/d), Haynesville (42,000 b/d) and Utica (46,000 b/d) to be nearly unchanged. Declines are expected in the Bakken (905,000 b/d, compared with 918,000 in December) and Eagle Ford (980,000 b/d, compared with 1.00 million b/d).

EIA released its first DPR in October 2013 but didn't forecast month-to-month production declines until September 2015. Since then, the agency's production forecasts have followed a steady downward trend. The seven regions during 2011-2014 accounted for 92% of domestic oil production growth and all gas production growth.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts as of the end of November totaled 4,335 in the four oil-dominant regions -- Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara -- an increase of 84 from October, EIA said. There also were 884 DUCs in the three gas-dominant regions -- Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica -- a decline of 20.

The productivity of new oil wells in the plays is expected to increase next month. On a rig-weighted average basis, oil production per rig will be 664 b/d, compared to 654 b/d this month, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig in the plays will also increase, from 3.17 MMcf/d in December to 3.22 MMcf/d in January, EIA said.

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