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EIA: Natural Gas Shatters Records in 2011

The nation last year set new records in a variety of categories for natural gas, including gross withdrawals, number of producing wells, domestic consumption, exports, and dry, marketed and onshore production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

In its "Annual Energy Review 2011," a 390-page report released Thursday, the EIA said gross withdrawals of natural gas hit a record 28.58 Tcf in 2011. Of that total, 22.38 Tcf came from natural gas wells (an increase of 7.4% from 2010, at 20.84 Tcf), while 6.20 Tcf came from crude oil wells (up 3.5%, from 6.00 Tcf). The EIA began including natural gas gross withdrawals from coalbed and shale gas wells with the natural gas well figures in 2010.

Dry natural gas and marketed production also hit record highs in 2011, at 23.00 and 24.17 Tcf, respectively. Dry gas rose 7.8% (21.33 Tcf in 2010) while marketed production climbed 7.9% (22.40 Tcf in 2010).

Onshore natural gas wells produced a record 26.15 Tcf in 2011, an increase of 9.1% from 2010 when it totaled 23.96 Tcf. But offshore production fell 15.7% -- to its lowest point since 1970 -- during the same time frame, from 2.88 Tcf to 2.42 Tcf.

Texas stayed atop the list of natural gas producing states in 2011, bringing in 7.93 Tcf (up 4.4% from 7.59 Tcf in 2010). Louisiana and Oklahoma were next at 3.06 Tcf and 1.90 Tcf, respectively.

The EIA said the number of producing natural gas wells hit a record high of 504,000 wells on Dec. 31, 2011, an increase of 3.3% from the 488,000 wells at the end of 2010. Average productivity increased 3.8%, to 121.5 Mcf/d per well (up from 117.1 Mcf/d per well in 2010).

Consumption hit a record 24.37 Tcf in 2011, the EIA said, with imports (3.45 Tcf) and withdrawals from storage (3.17 Tcf) needed to meet the gap between demand and domestic production. Industrial customers accounted for 33% of gas demand, consuming 8.15 Tcf. This was followed by power generators (31% of demand, 7.60 Tcf), residential (19%, 4.73 Tcf) and commercial customers (13%, 3.16 Tcf). The consumption by the transportation amounted to 3% of demand, 718 Bcf: 686 Bcf for pipelines and distribution, and 33 Bcf for vehicle fuel, a new high.

From 2010 to 2011, imports fell 7.7% (from 3.74 Tcf to 3.45 Tcf) and exports climbed 32.5% (from 1.14 Tcf to a record 1.50 Tcf). Canada accounted for the far majority (89.9%, or 3.10 Tcf) of natural gas imports, followed by Trinidad and Tobago (3.8%, or 129 Bcf). Canada was also the destination for most exports from the U.S. (62.67%, or 937 Bcf), followed by Mexico (33.33%, or 500 Bcf) and Japan (1.3%, or 18 Bcf).

According to the EIA, withdrawal from storage between 2010 and 2011 fell 4.1% (from 3.31 Tcf to 3.17 Tcf), while storage additions increased 6.0% (from 3.32 Tcf to 3.52 Tcf). In 2011, base gas totaled 4.31 Tcf (with 142 Bcf stored in salt caverns), working gas totaled 3.46 Tcf (308 Bcf in salt caverns) and underground storage capacity totaled 8.78 Tcf.

The EIA said the amount of natural gas lost to venting or flaring was nearly unchanged between 2010 and 2011 (down 0.6%, from 166 Bcf to 165 Bcf). During the same time frame the amount of natural gas lost through repressuring fell 0.6% (from 3.43 Tcf to 3.41 Tcf), while total non-hydrocarbon gases removed fell 0.7% (from 837 Bcf to 831 Bcf). Meanwhile, extraction loss, which the EIA classifies as natural gas plant liquids transferred to the petroleum supply, increased 9.2% between 2010 and 2011 (from 1.07 Tcf to 1.17 Tcf).

In a separate report issued Friday, EIA said Lower 48 production was 72.58 Bcf/d in July, an increase of 0.4% (0.29 Bcf/d) compared with June, and up 4.3% (3 Bcf/d) compared with July 2011. Total U.S. production for the month was 79.25 Bcf/d, down 1.8% compared with 80.72 Bcf/d in June but up a 4.4% (3.34 Bcf/d) compared with July 2011, EIA said.

Gross withdrawals from the federal offshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM) during July were 4.06 Bcf/d, up slightly from 3.99 Bcf/d in June, EIA said in its Monthly Natural Gas Production Report. The June number was revised downward from the 4 Bcf/d EIA had previously reported (see NGI, Sept. 10). Production in Louisiana (8.50 Bcf/d, compared with 8.49 Bcf/d in June) and Texas (22.13 Bcf/d, compared with 22.04 in June) was flat as well, according to EIA.

In late June Tropical Storm Debby caused the shut-in of up to 44.1% of daily oil production and 34.8% of daily gas production in the GOM, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (see NGI, July 2).

"New Mexico had the largest percentage increase at 2.6% or 0.09 Bcf/d, which can be explained by new wells and completed maintenance," EIA said.

For the month, Oklahoma produced 5.50 Bcf/d (compared with 4.48 Bcf/d in June), Wyoming 6.10 Bcf/d (compared with 6.17 Bcf/d in June) and the Other States category 22.68 Bcf/d (compared with 22.60 Bcf/d in June). Alaska's July production was 6.67 Bcf/d, down a whopping 20.9% compared with 8.43 Bcf in June, but 10.6% (0.64 Bcf/d) higher than in July 2011, EIA said.

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