Combined conventional and unconventional natural gas production in West Virginia increased again last year, albeit at a lower rate than in years past, according to data from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
Production went from 1.315 Tcf in 2015 to 1.348 Tcf last year. Three years ago, combined production surpassed 1 Tcf for the first time. More growth was expected in 2015 as wells drilled in 2014 came online. As rigs declined, however, and the drilled but uncompleted well backlog dwindled heading into 2016, production was expected to flatten out.
At the end of last week, there were 16 rigs working in the state, compared to the nine that were running at the same time last year.
Combined oil production declined in 2016 as it did to the north in Ohio. As the commodities downturn persisted, operators throughout the Appalachian Basin focused on more economical dry gas. As that trend started to reverse itself heading into 2017, natural gas liquids production went from 3.3 million bbl in 2015 to nearly 4 million bbl last year in the state. West Virginia oil volumes dipped from 8.2 million bbl to 6.4 million bbl last year during the same time.
From 2008 to 2010, West Virginia production hovered around 260 Bcf annually, before operators sent annual production soaring to nearly 400 Bcf in 2011. It’s grown rapidly ever since, driven overwhelmingly by Marcellus and Utica shale production in the state.
Natural gas production continued to increase throughout the basin last year, with combined volumes going from about 1 Tcf in 2015 to 1.4 Tcf in Ohio. Year/year shale production increased 11% to 5.1 Tcf in Pennsylvania.
West Virginia producers submit their annual production data to the WVDEP by the end of March. The agency releases the raw data publicly by the end of the year.