Pennsylvania’s unconventional natural gas production continued to climb during the second quarter as prices increased and operations gained steam after hitting lows during the Covid-19 pandemic last year. 

Unconventional production came in at 1.851 Tcf in the second quarter, up 7.8% from 2Q2020. It was the strongest year/year growth for a quarter in nearly two years, according to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office (IFO). Quarterly growth hit its lowest rate on record in 2Q2020 as demand declined amid the virus outbreak. 

“The second quarter growth was largely driven by June production, which grew by 10% from June 2020,” IFO said. “Year/year growth in quarterly production has now accelerated notably through the first half of 2021.” 

Unconventional production was up 5.4% year/year in the first quarter to 1.863 Tcf. Growth during the first six months of the year was similar to pre-pandemic levels, IFO said. 

Between January and May, all Pennsylvania natural gas production was at about 3.150 Tcf, or the closest it’s been to natural gas production in Texas during the unconventional era, according to Energy Information Administration data cited by IFO. Over the same time, all Texas natural gas production was at 4.118 Tcf, where associated gas volumes have declined because of oil price volatility. Texas and Pennsylvania lead the nation in natural gas production.

Natural gas prices have also risen sharply since last year, alleviating the production curtailments operators were forced to make during the initial waves of the coronavirus and the demand destruction it caused. IFO said the average Henry Hub price increased 74.7% year/year in the second quarter to $2.88/MMBtu. Average prices in Pennsylvania, the office said, were up by 52.2% over the same time to $2.07.

There was also more activity in the state during the second quarter. IFO said 120 horizontal wells were spud during the period, or seven more than the same time last year. Horizontal wells accounted for the bulk of data in IFO’s report, while vertical wells drilled to unconventional formations mad up a marginal share. 

Overall, there were 10,569 producing wells in the state during 2Q2021, up 4.9% from last year.