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EIA: Appalachain gas production has tripled in 5 years

Appalachian gas production has more than tripled in the last five years as drillers honed in on sweet spots and used technology to drill longer wells in less time, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its "Today in Energy" note, Dec. 4.

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Appalachian gas volumes — primarily from the Marcellus and Utica shales in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia — have grown to 24.8 Bcf/d in September 2017 from 7.8 Bcf/d in summer 2012, the EIA said. For the same period, average production per drilling rig has also more than quadrupled from 3 MMcf/d to just over 14 MMcf/d, the EIA said.

Parallel to the growth in production has been the growing length of horizontal laterals, the portion of the well bore that contacts the shale. Laterals in West Virginia have grown from about 2,500 feet in 2007 to more than 7,000 feet in 2016, EIA said, while noting some individual Marcellus laterals have reached 15,000 feet with 19,000-foot laterals recorded in the Utica Shale.

While the laterals have grown longer, the time to drill wells has fallen by more than 75%, from 30 days in 2011 to 7 days in 2015, the EIA said. Less time to drill wells translates directly into costs savings for producers who pay less for the rig and drilling crew on a per well basis as time-to-drill drops.

Consulting firm Deloitte said Nov. 29 that Appalachia is now the third largest gas producing region in the world, behind only the entire U.S. (including Appalachia) and Russia.

As of September, Pennsylvania production averaged 14.8 Bcf/d, while Ohio production averaged 5.3 Bcf/d and West Virginia production came in at 4.7 Bcf/d.