The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Annual Energy Outlook and Drilling Productivity Report earlier this month. And once again, the spotlight is on the Marcellus and Utica shales.
According to the report, the “continued development of the Marcellus and Utica plays in the East is the main driver of growth in total U.S. shale gas production and the main source of total U.S. dry natural gas production.”
This isn’t surprising when we look at EIA’s Drilling Production Report, as it shows the Marcellus Shale is expected to produce 12.68 and 12.87 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in January and February, respectively. That’s an increase of 188 million cubic feet of natural gas per day, compared month over month.
The Utica Shale also had impressive productivity reports, with expected production to be 8.67 and 8.72 million cubic feet of natural gas per day in January and February, respectively—an increase of 15 million cubic feet of natural gas per day month over month.
This is a trend EIA has shown over the last few years, with its 2015 Drilling Productivity Report showing that from January 2012 to July 2015, natural gas production in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions accounted for 85% of the increase in natural gas production in the U.S. The agency attributed this steady production increase to technological advances including improvements in the precision and efficiency of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.
As production in these two plays continues to increase, the focus is now on building out the necessary infrastructure, such as pipelines, to continue this momentum. It appears 2017 should prove to be an exciting year in the Marcellus and Utica shales, not only with increased natural gas production, but also with increases in jobs —particularly union and manufacturing jobs — and economic benefits for local communities as a result of these infrastructure projects.