Charts du Jour, 6 April 2015: US Natural Gas Production

The US government agency The Energy Information Administration reported natural gas production numbers for January 2015 on 31 March (numbers are reported with a two month lag).

US dry gas production was up 8.9% year on year in January, and the 12-month moving average was 6.1% higher year on year, the highest growth since October 2012 (click for large image; source: here).

US Dry Gas Production Jan 2015 jpeg

Meanwhile, natural gas prices have continued to trend down and are now reaching around $2.5 per million British thermal units (Btu). This is not far off their 2012 lows (source: here).

Henry Hub Prices Mar 15 jpeg

Just as with oil, a slumping price has translated into falling rig count. For the week ending April 1, the active number of gas rigs was 1,048, down 761 from a year ago.

Weekly Natural Gas Rig Count jpeg

Vertical rigs are now almost extinct, but we are also seeing a slump in more efficient horizontal rigs as well. That said, the efficiency gains of new rigs are undisputed.

Take, for example, the Haynesville region (the second most productive region after the Marcellus), one of the earliest areas to see the deployment of unconventional natural gas extraction technology. By 2012, it looked like this region was in permanent decline. However, in 2014 production started to rise again (source: here).

Haynesville Region jpeg

The turnaround was mostly due to the deployment of efficient new rigs that drilled highly productive new wells.

Haynesville Gas jpeg

Nonetheless, given high depletion rates at existing fields, the lack of rig activity, especially horizontal rig activity, will likely translate into natural gas production growth stalling over the next few months.

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