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Shales Help Push Lower 48 Production Up 1% from Year Ago

Natural gas production in the Lower 48, boosted by output from shale plays, was up to 72.70 Bcf/d in December, almost 1% (0.62 Bcf/d) over December 2011, but down 1.1% (0.83 Bcf/d) compared with November, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Similarly, total U.S. production was 82.57 Bcf/d in December, down 0.7% (0.62 Bcf/d) compared with November but up about 0.6% (0.51 Bcf/d) compared with the year-ago period.

The agency's Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report, which was released Thursday, showed only Alaska producing more gas in December (9.87 Bcf/d) compared with November (9.66 Bcf/d). Louisiana had the largest sequential decrease at minus 3.1%, or 0.24 Bcf/d as some operators reported shut-ins, EIA said.

New Mexico production declined 3.9%, or 0.14 Bcf/d, month-to-month "mainly because of cold weather," according to the report. Texas and the Gulf of Mexico posted decreases of 0.9%, or 0.19 Bcf/d, and 2.9%, or 0.12 Bcf/d, respectively as several operators reported shut-ins.

Production in Oklahoma was down 0.9%, or 0.05 Bcf/d from November to December; Wyoming was down 0.3%, or 0.02 Bcf/d; and the Other States category declined 0.3%, or 0.7 Bcf/d.

Other States, which includes some of the nation's most prolific shale plays, had the largest increase compared with a year before, putting out 24.19 Bcf/d in December 2012, up 3.29 Bcf/d from 20.90 Bcf/d in December 2011.

U.S. natural gas production totaled 27.22 Tcf for the first 11 months of 2012, compared with 25.94 Tcf during the same period in 2011 and 24.42 Tcf in 2010, according to EIA's Monthly Energy Review for February, which was released earlier this week. Domestic consumption was on the rise, reaching 22.99 Tcf in November, compared with 21.86 Tcf in 2011 and 21.37 Tcf in 2010, EIA said.

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