Appalachian natgas output to flatten: BTU Analytics

  • Market: Natural gas
  • 07/03/19

Natural gas production in the US Appalachian shale region may flatten out at about 31 Bcf/d (878mn m³/d) and remain largely unchanged through 2027, according to a prediction from analysis firm BTU Analytics.

Output from the region's Marcellus and Utica shales has hit new records each year for more than a decade, but the majority of Appalachian producers are tapping the breaks on production growth this year, the firm said.

Fewer large scale pipeline expansions scheduled for this year may also discourage drilling activity in the region. New pipelines last year allowed for year-over-year production to rise by 3.9 Bcf/d, but no major expansions are expected to bring new takeaway capacity to Appalachia in 2019.

Pressure from shareholders to move more towards free cash flow generation and lower debt could also cause producers to tighten the reins on activity this year.

Out of a group of five prominent producers in the region, Cabot Oil & Gas is the only company planning to grow its output this year, according to executive comments made by the companies in fourth quarter earnings calls and releases. Antero Resources, Range Resources, EQT and CNX all plan for their growth to be flat or lower than 2018 gains.

Appalachian production forecasts have been pipeline constrained for years, but now the region is transitioning, BTU Analytics said. Production there will now be constrained by limited in-basin demand growth, downstream constraints on pipelines and demand, escalating long-haul pipeline project costs and capital availability, the firm said.

Gas output from Appalachia rose in January at a slower rate than a month earlier. Gross production in January from that region hit 31.1 Bcf/d, up marginally from December and 18pc higher than a year earlier, according to the most recent data from the US Energy Information Administration. The small month-over-month increase may reflect some weather-related shut-ins and lower gas prices in the region.


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