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Big Seven in Lower 48 to Near 78 Bcf/d Next Month, EIA Says

Production from the seven most prolific U.S. onshore unconventional plays in March will continue its seemingly endless upward swing, with natural gas output forecast to reach 77.97 Bcf/d and oil an estimated 8.40 million b/d, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

That would be an increase compared with February production out of the Anadarko, Appalachian and Permian basins, and the Bakken, Eagle Ford, Haynesville and Niobrara formations, which is estimated to be 77.11 Bcf/d of gas and 8.31 million b/d of oil, EIA said in its latest Drilling Productivity Report (DPR), which was released Tuesday.

EIA expects month-to-month gas production increases in all seven regions, led as usual by the Appalachian Basin, which is expected to reach 31.60 Bcf/d, up from 31.29 Bcf/d this month, according to the DPR.

Gas production increases also are expected in the Anadarko (7.71 Bcf/d, from 7.67 Bcf/d), Bakken (2.74 Bcf/d, from 2.73 Bcf/d), Eagle Ford (6.94 Bcf/d, from 6.89 Bcf/d), Haynesville (10.27 Bcf/d, from 10.11 Bcf/d), Niobrara (5.32 Bcf/d, from 5.26 Bcf/d) and Permian (13.40 Bcf/d from 13.18 Bcf/d).

Oil production is expected to increase in five of the seven regions. EIA expects production in Appalachia next month to be 141,000 b/d (compared with 138,000 this month), Bakken 1.45 million b/d (compared with 1.44 million b/d), Eagle Ford 1.44 million b/d (compared with 1.43 million b/d), Niobrara 713,000 b/d (compared with 687,000 b/d), and Permian 4.02 million b/d (compared with 3.98 million b/d). The Anadarko (587,000 b/d) and Haynesville (43,000 b/d) are forecast to see oil production remain unchanged month/month.

EIA has been reporting consecutive month-to-month increases out of the plays since 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.

Drilled but uncompleted (DUC) well counts across the Big Seven ended January at 8,798, an increase of 207 from December, EIA said.

The bulk of the DUCs continue to be found in the Permian, which jumped 205 in January to 4,170, and in the Eagle Ford, which increased 29 to 1,597. Two Big Seven plays saw their DUC numbers decrease from December: Appalachia (minus 22) and the Bakken (minus 15).

The productivity of new oil wells in the Big Seven plays is expected to increase marginally in March to 661 b/d, according to the DPR. New-well gas production per rig is also expected to increase during the month to 3.69 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.

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