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U.S. Natural Gas Production Shows Slight Fall in June

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U.S. natural gas production experienced a slight dropoff in June, according to a recent study. Overall low commodity prices were offset by efficiency gains in the field.

Natural gas production in the lower 48 averaged 72 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in June, down about 0.6 Bcf/d from the May average, according to Bentek Energy, an analytics and forecasting unit of Platts. On a month-over-month basis, June natural gas production was down less than 1 percent from May.

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will publish its domestic production estimates for April on or around July 31.

“The month-on-month U.S. production decline observed in June was largely attributed to continued maintenance events in the Northeast,” said Sami Yahya, Bentek energy analyst. “The combination of reduced drilling and completion costs, as well as considerable efficiency gains in the field, has helped producers across most regions better cope with the distressed commodity prices.”

According to Bentek’s data analysis, the average cost of service companies is down about 20 percent since last year. Also down are drill times, which have declined on average by three to five days this year in multiple regions.

“This translates into the ability of producers to utilize less rigs but drill more wells,” said Yahya. He pointed to the fact that some producers have indicated that in the past they tended to drill and complete a cluster of wells within an area and move on to the next cluster. But now, they say they are more likely to drill all of the clusters first and come back only later to complete those wells — saving money by not bringing completion rigs back and forth.

“This can also be viewed as completion deferment,” Yahya noted.  “It’s also worth noting that high-grading, or focusing on higher initial production rate areas, remains the primary trend in most areas.”

Bentek data analysis suggests 2015 U.S. natural gas production will average approximately 72.8 Bcf/d (which has recently been reduced from 73 Bcf/d due to persistent maintenance and outages), with growth occurring throughout the year, driven almost exclusively by continued production gains in the Northeast.

The Bentek data analysis is based on an extensive sample of near real-time production receipt data from the U.S. lower 48 interstate pipeline system. Platts’ Bentek production models are highly correlated with and provide an advance glimpse of federal government statistics from the EIA.

This Bentek Energy U.S. natural gas production data estimate will be published every month covering the previous month’s output activity. Bentek’s dry gas production estimates are not observed data and are based on pipeline receipt nominations and certain state production data.

Bentek Energy, which specializes in energy market analytics and is recognized as the industry leader in natural gas market fundamental analysis was acquired by Platts in 2011.

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