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Big Seven Plays' NatGas, Oil Production to Move Higher Again in August, EIA Says

The nation's seven most prolific onshore unconventional plays are expected to produce more natural gas and oil in August than in July, continuing an upward trend that has held steady for most of 2017, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The Big Seven plays -- the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian and Utica -- are forecast to produce an estimated total of 52.9 Bcf/d of natural gas in August, up from 52.0 Bcf/d in July, according to EIA's latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Monday. Gas production out of the plays, which was on a downward trend throughout 2016, returned to the upside in January and has been on the upswing ever since, according to EIA.

EIA expects gas production to be higher in all seven plays again in July month/month, and the Marcellus is seen leading the way in August with 19.75 Bcf/d from 19.55 Bcf/d this month. Also expected to post month/month increases in August are the Bakken (1.93 Bcf/d from 1.91 Bcf/d in July), Eagle Ford (6.40 Bcf/d from 6.29 Bcf/d), Haynesville (6.73 Bcf/d from 6.58 Bcf/d), Niobrara (4.84 Bcf/d from 4.74 Bcf/d), Permian (8.65 Bcf/d from 8.49 Bcf/d) and Utica (4.55 Bcf/d from 4.45 Bcf/d).

On the oil side of the equation, EIA said it expects total production out of the seven plays will be an estimated 5.59 million b/d in August, versus 5.47 million b/d in July, an increase of 113,000 b/d, according to the DPR.

EIA forecast August oil production from the Permian (2.54 million b/d), Niobrara (480,000 b/d), Eagle Ford (1.39 million b/d), Bakken (1.04 million b/d), Marcellus (42,000 b/d), and Utica (52,000 b/d) to be up compared with July. The Haynesville (46,000 b/d) is forecast to see oil production in August nearly unchanged month/month.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts as of the end of June totaled 5,132 in the four oil-dominant regions -- Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara -- an increase of 182 from May, EIA said. There also were a total of 899 DUCs in the three gas-dominant regions -- Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica -- which was 28 fewer than in May.

The productivity of new oil wells in the play is expected to decline marginally in August to 713 b/d, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig, on the other hand, is expected to increase to 3.60 MMcf/d in August, versus 3.58 MMcf/d this month.

The seven regions included in the DPR accounted for 92% of domestic oil production growth and all domestic natural gas production growth during 2011-2014.

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