Since 2009, natural gas production out of the Pennsylvania-centered Marcellus shale play has soared 650%. Today, daily new-well gas output from the region totals 7.5 million cubic feet — making it the largest or second-largest unconventional gas play in the world, depending on who’s counting.
A new report argues the Marcellus only just begun to boom.
Wood MacKenzie, an energy consultancy, forecasts that there remains up to $US90 billion-worth of recoverable gas reserves in the play. The agency raised its estimate of 2020 output to 20 billion cubic feet equivalent per day from 14 billion bcfed, and that the Marcellus will soon account for nearly 25% of total U.S. shale gas supply.
“Although rig counts have fallen across the Marcellus since early 2012, we can see that improved efficiency and a renewed focus on the play’s core sub-plays have led to on-going growth,” they say.
Last year, recovery rates, or the amount of gas extracted from a given well, increased 10% thanks to improving horizontal drilling.
Wood MacKenzie’s data is borne out by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which just raised its short-term energy outlook for total marketed natural gas production in 2014 by 0.8 billion cubic feet per day to 73.9 Bcf/d thanks to output increases out of Marcellus states and Texas.
This EIA chart further illustrates it’s taking fewer drilling rigs to yield more hydrocarbons.
This will mean energy prices will remain subdued, the agency says.
“Rapid natural gas production growth in the Marcellus formation has contributed to low natural gas forward prices in the Northeast, and as a result new infrastructure has been proposed to take gas to other market regions,” they write. “In June, the eastward-flowing Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) began service on its Seneca Lateral, which will take Marcellus gas westward to the Midwest. REX’s parent company, Tallgrass Energy, plans to add bidirectional capability on a significant portion of REX’s easternmost segment.”
Here’s the EIA’s overall natural gas production forecast: