Drilling Down

U.S. Natural Gas Production Hit New Record in 2018

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The U.S. Energy Information Agency reports that natural gas production in the United States grew by 10 billion cubic feet per day during 2018, an 11% increase compared to the previous year.

The growth marked the largest annual production increase on record, reaching an all-time high for the second consecutive year, EIA said.

Driving this growth is the Appalachian Region, which comprises the Utica/Point Pleasant shale in Ohio, and the Marcellus shale play in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. This region continues to be the largest natural-gas producing region in the United States, the report said.

Ohio saw the largest percentage increase in gross withdrawals of natural gas, up 34% in 2018 to 6.5 billion cubic feet per day.

The production boost across Ohio is affecting how natural gas is transported across the country.

“It used to be solely that the Midwest would get natural as from the south or imports, but now we’re supplying the gas to them,” said Dan Alfaro, spokesman for Energy In Depth.

EIA research shows continued growth of natural gas production in the Mid-Atlantic and Ohio region from the Marcellus and Utica formations has resulted in “increases of natural gas being transported to the Eastern Midwest, and ultimately, into the South Central region, which includes the Gulf Coast and Texas.”

That trend continues well into 2019, according to EIA’s latest drilling productivity report. Natural gas production in the Appalachian basin is expected to rise by 358 million cubic feet per day in April compared to March.

This coincides with stepped-up investment in pipelines across the Appalachian region, Energy In Depth’s Alfaro said. According to the advocacy group, more than $32 billion worth of investment has poured into new pipeline development in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

According to Energy In Depth, there are 27 pipelines either finished, under construction or in the permitting stages. These pipelines together constitute 3,500 miles, projected to create 124,000 jobs and able to transport 22.7 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas.

Two pipelines underway that are able to transport 445,000 barrels of natural gas liquids such as ethane to end users such as Royal Dutch Shell’s $6 billion cracker plant near Monaca, Pa.

As natural gas production increased, the volume of natural-gas exports also increased for the fourth consecutive year, reaching 9.9 billion cubic feet per day, EIA reported. Total exports increased by 14% in 2018, while liquefied natural gas exports grew by 53% to 3 billion cubic feet per day.

The U.S. continued to export more natural gas than it imported during 2018. In 2017, the U.S. became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 60 years.

Copyright 2019 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.