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Pa. shale gas production flatlines in June as producer cuts take effect

Shale gas production in Pennsylvania dropped 2% in June from May, to 18.48 Bcf/d, almost flat to the year prior, according to data from the state Department of Environmental Protection.

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Volume cuts by EQT Corp., the nation's largest natural gas producer, accounted for a large part of the falloff. EQT announced in May it was shutting in 1.4 Bcf/d of production, about one-third of companywide volumes. That led to an immediate 11% drop in its Pennsylvania production, followed by another 10% cut in June. EQT's Pennsylvania production fell to 2.86 Bcf/d in June, a 16% decrease year over year.

EQT and other drillers, such as neighbor CNX Resources Corp., are chopping volumes in hopes of timing the gas commodities market to catch a wave of $3/MMBtu prices expected this winter, almost double current prices at the benchmark Henry Hub.

While EQT said it had restored all of its production at the end of July, executives were pleased that well performance did not suffer after turning off the valves, and they may repeat the performance this fall until prices improve. CNX plans to restore the 500 MMcfe/d it has shut in by Oct. 1.

None of the production cuts changed the basic outline of Pennsylvania's shale gas play. Production is still dominated by five counties in opposite corners of the state, led by Susquehanna County in the dry gas window in the northeast. Susquehanna production volumes were basically flat in June, both month to month and year over year.

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