Natural gas and oil production from the seven most prolific U.S. onshore unconventional plays in December will continue a two-year upward progression, with gas output expected to reach 75.08 Bcf/d and oil an estimated 7.94 b/d, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Those estimates are both higher than production this month, EIA said in its latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), released Tuesday. EIA said it expects total gas production in November from the the seven key regions -- the Anadarko, Appalachian and Permian basins, and the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Niobrara formations -- to be 74.04 Bcf/d, and oil production to be 7.83 million b/d.
Steady increases out of the plays began in January 2017, when total gas production was estimated at 47.51 Bcf/d, and total oil production was an estimated 4.54 million b/d.
About 40% of the natural gas production increase in December will come out of the mighty Appalachia Basin, home to the Marcellus and Utica Shales. Production there is expected to reach 30.43 Bcf/d, up from 30.03 Bcf/d this month, according to the DPR.
EIA is forecasting gas production increases across the board in December, including in the Anadarko (7.53 Bcf/d, from 7.43 Bcf/d), Bakken (2.58 Bcf/d, from 2.56 Bcf/d), Eagle Ford (7.27 Bcf/d, from 7.15 Bcf/d), Haynesville (9.67 Bcf/d, from 9.56 Bcf/d), Niobrara (5.19 Bcf/d, from 5.15 Bcf/d) and Permian (12.41 Bcf/d from 12.16 Bcf/d).
Production increases in December are expected almost across the board on the oil side of the ledger as well, according to the DPR.
The Permian will continue to dominate, reaching 3.70 million b/d, compared to 3.63 million b/d in November. Oil output increases are expected in five other plays, with the Anadarko estimated at 589,000 b/d, Appalachia at 141,000 b/d, Bakken at 1.37 million b/d, Eagle Ford at 1.43 million b/d and Niobrara at 671,000 b/d. The Haynesville (43,000 b/d) is forecast to see oil production remain unchanged month/month.
Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts across the Big Seven ended October at 8,545, an increase of 269 from September, EIA said.
The bulk of the DUCs, and the largest increase in DUCs, was again in the Permian, which jumped 249 in October to 3,866, and in the Eagle Ford, which increased 25 to 1,571. Three Big Seven plays saw their DUC numbers decrease from September: Appalachia (minus 19), the Bakken (minus 20) and the Niobrara (minus 14).
The productivity of new oil wells in the Big Seven plays is expected to increase in December to 679 b/d, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig is also expected to increase during the month to 3.84 MMcf/d.
EIA compiles the DPR using recent U.S. data on the total number of drilling rigs in operation along with estimates of drilling productivity and estimated changes in output from existing wells to provide estimated changes in production.