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2019 Pa. shale gas growth slows almost to a halt in August

2019 shale gas production growth in Pennsylvania continued to slow in August, according to the latest state figures, primarily due to less gas from wells operated by EQT Corp. in two counties south of Pittsburgh.

The state's natural gas production in August was 11.5% greater year over year, but it was basically flat compared to July, data reported to the state's Department of Environmental Protection showed on Oct. 18.

EQT, the nation's largest gas producer by volume, reported 5% less gas production in August compared to July, and only 1.6% growth year over year. Most of the state's major drillers are slowing their drilling in response to low gas prices and investor pressure to spend less and generate positive cash flows.

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Since a July shareholder revolt at EQT brought new CEO Toby Rice on board, the Pittsburgh driller has been marking time while undergoing a review of its corporate goals and strategies. The announcement of a new plan for EQT is slated for the company's third-quarter earnings call on Oct. 31.

EQT's slowdown contributed to a 3% decline in production month to month in Greene County in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania. The county was the only one of the top five producing counties to post a decline. In Washington County, shale gas volumes grew less than 1% between July and August.

Big, publicly traded exploration and production companies continued to dominate Pennsylvania's shale gas scene, accounting for 64% of the state's total production.

Nearly 76% of the state's gas production came from five counties, split between opposite corners of the state. Pennsylvania's top producing county, Susquehanna, in the northeast, saw its production grow 16% year over year and 2% over July's figure. Its dominant operator, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., reported producing nearly 21% more gas in August compared to a year ago and 4% more than in July. The county's other two top operators, Southwestern Energy Co. and Chesapeake Energy Corp., both reported production declines between July and August.

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