Image courtesy of Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr.

While the Bakken shale play soaks up most of the media limelight, the Marcellus and Utica plays have been the true driving forces behind U.S. shale growth.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, thanks to technical improvements in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing the Marcellus and Utica regions have accounted for 85 percent of natural gas production growth since 2012.

Average new-well gas production per rig in the Marcellus region climbed to 8.3 million cubic feet per day in July 2015, up significantly from 3.2 MMcf/d in January 2012.

That trend corresponds with an overall increase in the amount of natural gas being produced in the Marcellus region during the same period.

Data collected by the EIA shows that production at the play jumped from about 6.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in January 2012 to 16.5 Bcf per day in July 2015.

Rig productivity and production levels in the Utica region have also seen significant gains over the past three years.

New-well gas production in the Utica region climbed to 6.9 MMcf/d in July 2015 from an average of 0.31 MMcf/d in January 2012.

Production at Utica grew 18 fold from January 2013 to July 2015, climbing from 0.15 Bcf/d to 2.6 BcF/d during that period.

“Collectively, shale gas production from the Marcellus and Utica regions increased by 12.6 Bcf/d from January 2012 to June 2015, making these regions the driving forces behind overall U.S. natural gas production growth,” the report said.

The production boosts in both regions are primarily tied to drillers using more advanced drilling techniques, an increased  number of stages used in hydraulic fracturing operations, a surge in the popularity of techniques such as zipper fracturing and the use of components in well completion that increase fracture size.

U.S. shale production now accounts for 56 percent U.S. dry natural gas production, according to the EIA’s latest data.


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