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NatGas, Oil Production From Big Seven Plays to Continue 2017 Increase in May, EIA Says

Natural gas and oil production out of the nation's seven most prolific unconventional plays will increase in May, as it has done each month this year, and the total number of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells in the plays will also increase, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The seven plays -- the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian and Utica -- will produce an estimated total of 50.09 Bcf/d of natural gas in May, up from 49.59 Bcf/d in April, according to EIA's latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Monday. Gas production out of the plays, which had been on a downward trend for more than a year, returned to the upside in January and is expected to be up this month compared to March, according to EIA.

Gas production is expected to be higher in all seven plays this month compared to last. Increased gas production is expected in the Bakken (1.74 Bcf/d in May, compared with 1.73 Bcf/d in April), Eagle Ford (5.94 Bcf/d, compared with 5.85 Bcf/d in April), Haynesville (6.38 Bcf/d, compared with 6.24 Bcf/d), Marcellus (18.99 Bcf/d, compared with 18.98 Bcf/d),  and Niobrara (4.69 Bcf/d, compared with 4.63 Bcf/d), as well as the Permian (8.14 Bcf/d, compared with 7.98 Bcf/d) and Utica (4.22 Bcf/d, compared with 4.18 Bcf/d).

Total oil production out of the seven plays will be an estimated 5.19 million b/d in May, versus 5.07 million b/d in April, according to the DPR.

EIA forecast May oil production out of the Permian (2.36 million b/d), Niobrara (456,000 b/d) and Eagle Ford (1.22 million b/d) to be up compared with April. At the same time, a marginal decline is expected in the Bakken (1.02 million b/d), and the Marcellus, Haynesville and Utica will remain nearly unchanged.

DUC well counts as of the end of March totaled 4,581 in the four oil-dominant regions -- Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara -- an increase of 105 from February, EIA said. There also were 931 DUCs in the three gas-dominant regions -- Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica -- six more than in February.

The productivity of new oil and natural gas wells in the plays is expected to increase slightly in May. On a rig-weighted average basis, oil production per rig will be 735 b/d, compared to 725 b/d this month, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig in the plays will increase to an estimated 3.57 MMcf/d in May, compared with 3.53 MMcf/d this month, EIA said.

The seven regions included in the DPR accounted for 92% of domestic oil production growth and all domestic natural gas production growth during 2011-14.

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