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EIA projects winter weather will not hinder shale production growth

U.S. shale oil and gas production growth is projected to continue through February and avoid the slight downturn experienced during the winter of 2019, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its monthly drilling productivity report.

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The EIA projected that shale oil production will reach 9.2 million barrels per day while gas production will average nearly 86 Bcf/d during February, an increase from the predicted 9.18 million bbl/d and 85.9 Bcf/d, respectively, in January. During the winter of 2018-2019, oil production fell from 8.25 million bbl/d in December 2018 to 8.11 million bbl/d in February 2019, while gas production slid slightly from December 2018 to January 2019 before rebounding the following month. This year, the EIA is calling for the growth streak to continue unabated.

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The EIA reported that shale oil production in the Permian Basin surpassed 4.7 million bbl/d in December 2019 and projected it will top 4.8 million bbl/d in February. Gas production will increase to an estimated 16.8 Bcf/d, also a record for the play.

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The nation's largest shale gas producing region could experience a production slowdown during the coldest months of winter. The EIA is projecting a slight decrease in gas production in Appalachia, dropping from about 33.5 Bcf/d in December 2019 to less than 33.4 Bcf/d in February. That would follow the pattern of last winter, with production starting to rebound in March 2019.

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Another dry gas shale play, the Haynesville Shale, is projected to continue to break monthly production records through February. The EIA predicted that production, which was less than 12.5 Bcf/d in December 2019, will approach 12.7 Bcf/d in February as the play benefits from its proximity to LNG export facilities on the Gulf Coast.

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While shale production is expected to continue to increase, the number of drilled but uncompleted wells across the country has continued to decline. After hitting a record high of 8,473 drilled but uncompleted wells in May 2019, the number has declined monthly. The EIA reported that the number of drilled but uncompleted wells had fallen to 7,573 in December 2019, with 3,612 of those in the Permian.

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