U.S. natural gas production continued to break new ground late in 2015 thanks to unconventional shale development, as the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said total dry gas production in November reached its highest level for the month since reporting began in 1973.

Preliminary dry gas production totaled 2,227 Bcf, or 74.2 Bcf/d, for the month of November, a 1.3% year/year increase, EIA said in its latest Natural Gas Monthly report.

EIA-reported monthly production totals from earlier in 2015 also reached record highs (see Shale Daily, Dec. 31, 2015).

Meanwhile, EIA-914 survey data showed total U.S. gas production continuing its upward trend in November, climbing to 91.47 Bcf/d from 90.95 Bcf/d in October, a 0.6% increase month/month and a 3.8% increase from the year-ago period.

The biggest gas-producing states reported strong output for the month. Pennsylvania production increased 3.3% month/month and 12.6% year/year to reach 13.47 Bcf/d, while Texas stayed essentially flat at 23.78 Bcf/d. Other big movers included Alaska at 9.66 Bcf/d, up 7.2% month/month and 2.6% year/year, and Ohio at 3.5 Bcf/d, up 3.8% month/month and 76.8% year/year.

Rounding out the rest of the states included in the EIA-914 survey were: Arkansas, 2.64 Bcf/d (down 14.3% year/year); California, 609 MMcf/d (down 15.2% year/year); Colorado, 4.66 Bcf/d (up 7.2% year/year); Kansas, 770 MMcf/d (down 3.6%); Louisiana, 5.35 Bcf/d (up 4.6%); Montana, 153 MMcf/d (down 1.3%); New Mexico, 3.59 Bcf/d (up 1.8%); North Dakota, 1.65 Bcf/d (up 15.2%); Oklahoma, 6.77 Bcf/d (up 3.4%); Utah, 1.03 Bcf/d (down 13.5%); West Virginia, 3.23 Bcf/d (up 1.3%); Wyoming, 5.45 Bcf/d (down 0.7%); federal offshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM), 3.53 Bcf/d (up 4.1%); and other states, 1.62 Bcf/d (down 4.8%).

Preliminary U.S. dry gas consumption in November totaled 2,252 Bcf, or 75.1 Bcf/d. That’s down 4.9% (3.9 Bcf/d) from the 2,369 Bcf consumed in November 2014, EIA said. EIA pointed to warmer temperatures as one factor driving the decrease in consumption.

Year/year total consumption decreased in the industrial, commercial and residential sectors. Bucking this trend was deliveries to power plants, “which increased significantly” year/year to reach 733 Bcf, up 22% from November 2014, EIA said.

Thanks to low commodity prices, natural gas made significant gains in 2015 as a fuel for electric generation, driving down wholesale electric rates (see Daily GPI, Jan. 11) and surpassing coal’s monthly generation share for the first time ever in April and again in several subsequent months (see Daily GPI, Dec. 28, 2015; Dec. 2, 2015; Oct. 28, 2015). That trend continued into late 2015, according to EIA’s latest power generation data, with gas fueling 101.866 million MWh in November (34% of total generation), compared to 87.789 million MWh (29%) from coal.