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NatGas, Oil Production From Big Seven Plays To Continue Higher in March, EIA Says

Oil and natural gas production from the nation's seven most prolific unconventional plays will continue to edge higher in March, a third consecutive month of increases following an extended downturn, according to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Total gas production out of the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville, Marcellus, Niobrara, Permian and Utica plays will be an estimated 49.14 Bcf/d in March, up from an estimated 48.61 Bcf/d this month, 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, according to EIA.

Natural gas production increases are expected in the Haynesville (6.17 Bcf/d in March, compared with 6.06 Bcf/d in February), Marcellus (19.11 Bcf/d, compared with 18.91 Bcf/d), Niobrara (4.55 Bcf/d, compared with 4.49 Bcf/d), Permian (7.83 Bcf/d, compared with 7.70 Bcf/d) and Utica (4.16 Bcf/d, compared with 4.10 Bcf/d). The Bakken is expected to see a marginal increase, while production out of the Eagle Ford is expected to be 5.56 Bcf/d, a decline compared with 5.58 in February.   

Total oil production out of the seven plays will be an estimated 4.87 million b/d in March, an 80,000 b/d increase compared with March, according to the DPR.

EIA forecast March oil production out of the Permian (2.25 million b/d), Niobrara (447,000 b/d), Marcellus (39,000) and Eagle Ford (1.08 million b/d) to be up slightly compared with February. At the same time, a slight decline is expected in the Bakken (976,000 b/d) and the Haynesville will remain unchanged at 42,000 b/d.

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.

The productivity of new oil and natural gas wells in the plays is also expected to increase in March. On a rig-weighted average basis, oil production per rig will be 713 b/d, compared to 699 b/d this month, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig in the plays will increase from an estimated 3.50 MMcf/d in February to 3.51 MMcf/d in March, EIA said.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts as of the end of January totaled 4,527 in the four oil-dominant regions -- Permian, Bakken, Eagle Ford and Niobrara -- an increase of 107 from December, EIA said. There also were 854 DUCs in the three gas-dominant regions -- Haynesville, Marcellus and Utica -- a decline of 15.

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