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Marcellus Drilling Pushes Northeast Production Higher

Natural gas production in the northeastern United States has grown rapidly since 2009, thanks to increased drilling in the Marcellus Shale, according to data released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Tuesday.

The largest production gains have come in northeastern Pennsylvania, according to EIA, which said there have also been noticeable increases in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

While production across the rest of the Northeast has remain virtually unchanged since 2007, northeastern Pennsylvania increased to more than 2 Bcf/d in July from 0.4 Bcf/d in January 2010, EIA said. Production in southwestern Pennsylvania increased more than three times (to more than 0.8 Bcf/d) and production in West Virginia increased more than 40% (to more than 1 Bcf/d) between the start of 2010 and July 2011, according to EIA.

Bentek Energy LLC estimates production in Pennsylvania and West Virginia at 4 Bcf/d, more than five times the 2004-2008 average, EIA said. Jack Weixel, manager of energy market fundamentals for Bentek, recently said he expects 4 Bcf/d of growth through 2015 in Pennsylvania alone (see Shale Daily, May 20).

In a separate report issued Tuesday, EIA said U.S. Lower 48 gross natural gas production in June increased to 69.47 Bcf/d, up 01.% compared with 69.39 Bcf/d in May, despite losses in the federal offshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM), Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.

Total U.S. production in June was 77.85 Bcf/d, up 8.9% from a year ago when 71.42 Bcf/d was produced, according to EIA's Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report.

The federal offshore GOM continued a six-month slide as production dropped 0.23 Bcf/d (4.3%) compared to May because of maintenance, construction and repairs, EIA said. Louisiana posted a 0.7% decline; New Mexico saw a 1.4% decline; Texas declined by 1.1%, and Alaska posted a 4.7% decline, falling to 8.28 Bcf/d in June from 8.69 Bcf/d in May. Oklahoma (5.21 Bcf/d, up 2.0% from May) and Wyoming (6.51 Bcf/d, up 1.4%) were the only individual states that posted production increases in June.

New wells that came online in the Marcellus and North Dakota helped push the Other States category up to 19.0 Bcf/d, a 2.5% increase compared with 18.53 Bcf/d in May, EIA said.

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