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An oil and gas pump jack operating in the Niobrara Shale formation in Weld County, Colorado. (Image: CL Baker via Flickr)

EIA: Natural gas, crude production fell in 2016

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration March 8, 2017 report, U.S. natural gas production and crude production both fell in 2016.

Average crude oil production in the lower 48 states in 2016 fell to 8.39 million barrels per day (b/d). This is a decrease of 6.1 percent from the 2015 average, or approximately 0.55 million b/d. Natural gas withdrawals also decreased in 2015, averaging 1.03 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), 1.3 percent lower than in 2015.

The Gulf of Mexico saw the only significant increase in U.S. oil production in 2016. Since offshore projects take much longer to complete, new projects planned in 2012-14 finally came online over a year later.  West Virginia and New Mexico were the only states that saw oil production increases in 2016. Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Louisiana saw net increases in natural gas production by state, despite an overall national decrease.

crude production volume change 2016

natural gas production 2016 volume changeWhile overall totals showed a net decline in crude production, recovery was evident in the increase in production during the second half of 2016. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil went from a monthly low of $30 per barrel in January 2016 to an average of $53 per barrel in January 2017. Currently, oil is holding on just above $50 for March. However, current crude production increases across the shale plays have pushed market predictions lower. Some predict lower oil prices throughout the rest of the year. Eugene Graner with Heartland Investor Services says oil may have topped out in January.  According to Oilprice, a stable market means a rebound to $55-60 in 2018 and 2019, but a stressed, oversupplied market will mean $40 a barrel through 2019.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) have committed to cutting oil production to help improve the global oil oversupply, or glut. However, U.S. shale producers, in response to slightly increased prices, have continued to increase production in recent months. After Texas saw the largest volumetric decrease in 2016 of 239,000 b/d, production in Texas now continues to increase. The February 13, 2017 Drilling Productivity Report showed an increase in the Permian Basin of 70,000 b/d from the previous month from 2,180,000 b/d to 2,250,000 b/d. The Eagle Ford continues to produce just over a million b/d while the Bakken is just below. Production in the Bakken region, however, continues to drop, showing a decrease of 18,000 b/d over the last month.


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