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Production Out of Unconventional Plays to End Year on High Note, EIA Says

Natural gas and oil production from the nation's seven most prolific onshore unconventional plays will increase by an estimated 1.3% in December compared to November, marking the 12th consecutive month of upswing, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Natural gas production out of the Big Seven plays -- the Anadarko, Appalachian and Permian basins, and the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Niobrara formations -- is forecast to reach an estimated total of 61.71 Bcf/d in December, compared to 60.93 Bcf/d in November, according to EIA's latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Monday.

Gas production from the plays, which was on a downward trend throughout 2016, returned to the upside in January and has been rising ever since, according to EIA. Total gas production out of the Big Seven in December 2016 was 47.42 Bcf/d.

EIA expects gas production to be higher in all seven plays in December month/month, with the Appalachian Basin, as usual, leading the way with 26.01 Bcf/d, compared to 25.67 Bcf/d in November.

Also expected to post month/month increases in December are the Anadarko Basin (6.10 Bcf/d, from 6.08 Bcf/d), Bakken Shale (2.06 Bcf/d from 2.04 Bcf/d), Haynesville Shale (7.26 Bcf/d from 7.13 Bcf/d), Niobrara formation (4.80 Bcf/d from 4.75 Bcf/d) and Permian Basin (9.19 Bcf/d from 9.02 Bcf/d). Natural gas production in the Eagle Ford Shale is expected to increase marginally to 6.23 Bcf/d.

EIA also expects total oil production in the seven plays to increase to an estimated 6.17 million b/d in December, compared to 6.09 million b/d in November, an increase of 80,000 b/d.

The bulk of the oil increase is expected to come out of the Permian, which is forecast to reach 2.69 million b/d, compared to 2.63 million b/d in October. EIA forecast oil production to be up from November in the Anadarko (480,000 b/d), Appalachia (111,000 b/d), Bakken (1.11 million b/d) and Niobrara (523,000 b/d). The Eagle Ford (1.22 million b/d) and Haynesville (45,000 b/d) are forecast to see oil production remain unchanged month/month in December.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts as of the end of October totaled 7,342 in the seven regions, an increase of 138 from September, EIA said. The bulk of those wells were in the Permian, which saw an increase of 103 for the month to 2,533 DUCs, and in the Eagle Ford, which increased 33 to 1,485 DUCs.

The productivity of new oil wells in the plays is expected to increase marginally in December to 603 b/d, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig is also expected to increase slightly, to 3.49 MMcf/d.

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