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Upward Trend in Oil, Natural Gas Production from Big Seven to Continue in February, EIA Says

The seemingly inexorable upward trend of oil and natural gas production from the seven most prolific U.S. onshore unconventional plays is likely to continue in February compared with January, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Month/month production increases of both oil and gas are expected almost across the board in the Big Seven plays -- the Anadarko, Appalachian and Permian basins, and the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Niobrara formations -- according to EIA's latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Tuesday. That would continue a trend that has been underway since January 2017.

Total oil production in the seven plays is expected to increase to an estimated 6.55 million b/d in February, compared to 6.44 million b/d in January, an increase of about 111,000 b/d, EIA said

Most of the increase in oil production is to come from the Permian, which is forecast to reach 2.87 million b/d, compared to 2.79 million b/d in January.

Lesser increases are expected in five other plays, with the Anadarko estimated at 491,000 b/d, Appalachia at 116,000 b/d, the Bakken at 1.22 million b/d, Eagle Ford at 1.26 million b/d, and Niobrara at 556,000 b/d. The Haynesville (44,000 b/d) is forecast to see oil production remain unchanged month/month in February.

Total natural gas production from the plays is expected to reach 64.07 Bcf/d in February, compared to 63.18 Bcf/d in January, with increases expected from all but one play. The Appalachian Basin, home to the mighty Marcellus and Utica shales, will lead the way with an estimated 26.78 Bcf/d, compared to 26.40 Bcf/d in January, EIA said.

Increases are also expected in the Bakken (2.17 Bcf/d from 2.14 Bcf/d), Eagle Ford (6.44 Bcf/d from 6.40 Bcf/d), Haynesville (7.87 Bcf/d from 7.68 Bcf/d), Niobrara (4.88 Bcf/d from 4.84 Bcf/d) and Permian (9.79 Bcf/d from 9.59 Bcf/d). Natural gas production in the Anadarko is expected to decrease slightly, to 6.13 Bcf/d from 6.14 Bcf/d.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts across the Big Seven ended the year at 7,493, an increase of 156 from November, EIA said. The bulk of those wells were in the Permian, which saw an increase of 137 in December to 2,777 DUCs, and in the Eagle Ford, which increased 36 to 1,468 DUCs. Three of the Big Seven plays saw their DUC number decrease compared to November: the Appalachian (minus three), the Bakken (minus four) and the Niobrara (minus 23).

The productivity of new oil wells in the plays is expected to increase marginally in February to 650 b/d, according to the DPR. At the same time, new-well gas production per rig is expected to increase, to 3.66 MMcf/d.

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