Month-to-month increases in natural gas and oil production from the seven most prolific U.S. onshore unconventional plays will continue in February, pushing the upward trend into a third year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).
Total gas production from the seven regions -- the Anadarko, Appalachian and Permian basins, and the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Niobrara formations -- is expected to reach 77.56 Bcf/d in February, compared to 76.71 Bcf/d in January, EIA said in its latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR). At the same time, oil production from the same regions will increase to an estimated 8.18 million b/d next month, compared to 8.12 million b/d this month.
EIA began reporting consecutive month-to-month increases out of the plays beginning in January 2017, when their total gas production was estimated at 47.51 Bcf/d, and total oil production was an estimated 4.54 million b/d.
EIA expects month-to-month gas production increases in all seven regions, led as usual by the Appalachian Basin, home to the mighty Marcellus and Utica shales. Production there is expected to reach 31.57 Bcf/d, up from 31.34 Bcf/d this month, according to the DPR.
EIA is also forecasting gas production increases in the Anadarko (7.74 Bcf/d, from 7.67 Bcf/d), Bakken (2.61 Bcf/d, from 2.59 Bcf/d), Eagle Ford (7.14 Bcf/d, from 7.05 Bcf/d), Haynesville (10.07 Bcf/d, from 9.92 Bcf/d), Niobrara (5.24 Bcf/d, from 5.18 Bcf/d) and Permian (13.18 Bcf/d from 12.96 Bcf/d).
Meanwhile, oil production out of the Permian will reach an estimated 3.85 million b/d, compared to 3.83 million b/d in January, EIA said. But with wishy washy oil prices slip sliding and some onshore producers trimming their capital spending for 2019, concern is rising that some of the planned crude takeaway projects in the Permian could be shaky.
Fourth quarter earnings season is underway, and several exploration and production companies are already guiding for lower activity in 2019 in the Permian, the No. 1 prospect in the country.
Oil output increases are expected in five other plays next month, EIA said, with the Anadarko estimated at 586,000 b/d, Appalachia at 159,000 b/d, Bakken at 1.42 million b/d, Eagle Ford at 1.44 million b/d and Niobrara at 681,000 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 December at 8,594, an increase of 218 from November, EIA said.
The bulk of the DUCs continue to be found in the Permian, which jumped 205 in December to 4,048, and in the Eagle Ford, which increased 41 to 1,561. Three Big Seven plays saw their DUC numbers decrease from November: Appalachia (minus 27), the Bakken (minus 11) and the Niobrara (minus 3).
The productivity of new oil wells in the Big Seven plays is expected to increase in February to 632 b/d, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig is also expected to increase during the month to 3.63 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.