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Big Seven NatGas, Oil Production Increases Expected Again in January, EIA Says

Production of natural gas and oil from the nation's seven most prolific onshore unconventional plays, which has been on the upswing throughout 2017, is expected to increase again in the first month of 2018 compared with December, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Both gas and oil production in January is expected to increase in nearly all of 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 Monday. That would continue a trend that has been underway since January 2017.

Total natural gas production from the plays is expected to reach 63.03 Bcf/d in January, compared to 62.27 Bcf/d in December, with increases expected from all but one play. The Appalachian Basin will lead the way with an estimated 26.37 Bcf/d, compared to 26.03 Bcf/d in December, EIA said. Natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin has increased by more than 14 Bcf/d since 2012, helping to drive an overall increase in U.S. volumes, EIA said in a recent note.

Increases are also expected in the Bakken (2.13 Bcf/d from 2.10 Bcf/d), Eagle Ford (6.40 Bcf/d from 6.38 Bcf/d), Haynesville (7.68 Bcf/d from 7.53 Bcf/d), Niobrara (4.84 Bcf/d from 4.79 Bcf/d) and Permian (9.56 Bcf/d from 9.037 Bcf/d). Natural gas production in the Anadarko is expected to decrease slightly, to 6.06 Bcf/d from 6.07 Bcf/d.

Oil production in the seven plays is expected to increase to an estimated 6.41 million b/d in January, compared to 6.31 million b/d in December, an increase of about 94,000 b/d.

Most of the increase in oil production will come from the Permian, which is forecast to reach 2.79 million b/d, compared to 2.73 million b/d in December. Increases of 1% or less are expected in five other plays, with the Anadarko estimated at 487,000 b/d, Appalachia at 114,000 b/d, the Bakken at 1.18 million b/d, Eagle Ford at 1.24 million b/d, and Niobrara at 549,000 b/d). The Haynesville (44,000 b/d) is forecast to see oil production remain unchanged month/month in January.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts as of the end of November totaled 7,354 in the seven regions, an increase of 94 from October, EIA said. The bulk of those wells were in the Permian, which saw an increase of 96 for the month to 2,613 DUCs, and in the Eagle Ford, which increased 19 to 1,441 DUCs. Two of the Big Seven -- the Bakken (minus 11) and the Niobrara (minus 23) -- saw their DUC numbers decrease compared with October.

The productivity of new oil wells in the plays is expected to increase marginally in January to 633 b/d, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig, on the other hand, is expected to decrease slightly, to 3.49 MMcf/d.

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