The Energy Information Administration (EIA) last Monday said it plans to introduce in April, when it reports domestic natural gas production activity for February, a new methodology for calculating natural gas produced in the United States.

"At that time, we plan to revise January [production] estimates using new methodology as well. In some cases, we expect the revisions will be significant," said the statistical arm of the Department of Energy. The EIA said its existing methodology was used to compile the January production estimates that were released last week.

The EIA said the changes are based on a comprehensive review of its 914 system last year. There has been some industry criticism about the accuracy of its 914 production data. In February EOG Resources CEO Mark Papa said the company believed the EIA was "consistently overstating" U.S. natural gas production and had modeled a decline in gas output of 3 Bcf/d by the end of this year (see NGI, Feb. 15).

But the Raymond James Energy Group disagreed. "Once again our production survey matched up pretty well when compared to the EIA-914 data. Yes, we think the 914 data is right," it said (see NGI, March 29). "We saw only a slow roll in production during 2009, nowhere near the free fall that many had been calling for. The lackluster drop exhibited in our 4Q09 production survey results has strengthened our bearish view on 2010 natural gas."

According to the EIA-914 natural gas production report issued last Monday, U.S. production rose 1.2% to 72.82 Bcf/d in January from 71.96 Bcf/d at year-end 2009, a sign to some domestic gas production has not yet leveled off in response to the basement-level prices. The lion's share of that production came from Lower 48 states -- up 0.9% to 63.43 Bcf/d in January from 62.84 Bcf/d in the prior month, EIA said. Total domestic gas production in January was just about flat with the same month a year ago.

With respect to individual Lower 48 states, Louisiana showed the the most aggressive month-to-month growth in output -- 3.3% to 5.29 Bcf/d in January. That was also up materially from 3.87 Bcf/d in January 2009 due to the development of the Haynesville Shale. Texas posted a very modest 0.1% month-to-month gain in production to 20.14 Bcf/d in January 2010, but it was down significantly from a year ago when output was 22.14 Bcf/d.

New Mexico came in third, with a flat performance of 3.71 Bcf/d in January; Oklahoma output dipped by 0.2% to 4.89 Bcf/d in January from 4.90 Bcf/d at year-end 2009; and Wyoming gas production slipped by 0.3% to 7.17 Bcf/d in January from 7.19 Bcf/d in December, the agency said.

The other Lower 48 states produced a combined 15.45 Bcf/d in January, up 2.1% from the 15.13 Bcf/d produced in December 2009. Production in the federal Gulf of Mexico was up 1.6% in January to 6.78 Bcf/d from 6.67 Bcf/d in December and was almost flat with a year ago. The EIA pegged output from Alaska at 9.39 Bcf/d in January, up 3% from 9.12 Bcf/d at year-end 2009.

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