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Northeast shale the backbone of 4-year US gas production growth

U.S.natural gas production increased by more than 4 Tcf from 2011 through 2015,even though there were nearly 20,000 fewer gas wells in operation by the end ofthe period.

Oiland gas wells produced 32.9 Tcf of natural gas in 2015, up from 28.5 Tcf in 2011,the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its 2015 annual gas report.Conversely, the number of operating gas wells at the end of 2015 wasapproximately 555,000, down from almost 575,000 in 2011. The number ofproducing gas wells peaked in 2012 at nearly 578,000 before beginning its slide.

Thesource of the increase in production was clear: shale plays, where productionnearly doubled from 2011 to 2015. In 2011, the EIA said, approximately 8.5 Tcfof gas was produced from unconventional plays. By 2015, that number had jumpedto nearly 15.5 Tcf. Production from other gas wells dropped during thefive-year period, from 12.3 Tcf in 2011 to 9.8 Tcf in 2015.

Accordingto the EIA, Texas was the leading gas producer in the U.S., with more than 7Tcf of production in 2015. That was up from 6.6 Tcf in 2011 but surpassed bythe nearly 7.2 Tcf produced in the state in 2014. Pennsylvania saw its gas productionnumbers nearly quadruple from 1.3 Tcf in 2011 to 4.8 Tcf in 2015.

Ohio,which has seen an increase in drilling activity as the Utica Shale isdeveloped, saw its production numbers increase even more dramatically from 2011to 2015. The state produced slightly less than 79 Bcf of gas in 2011 and 955Bcf in 2015. One state that saw gas production fall was Alaska, which went frommore than 334 Bcf in 2011 to 326 Bcf in 2015.

Productionfrom the Gulf of Mexico noticeably declined from 2011 to 2015. Offshore gasproduction, which the EIA said amounted to 2.4 Tcf in 2011, dropped to 1.8 Tcfin 2015.

AsU.S. production has increased, imports — mostly from Canada — have declined.The EIA said the U.S. imported 3.5 Tcf of natural gas in 2011, a number thatdropped to 2.7 Tcf in 2015. Exports, on the other hand, increased from 1.5 Tcfto 1.8 Tcf during the same period.