The Shale Revolution Rolls Over Its Skeptics with New Natural Gas Record

CELDF - report on Mora countyTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.

The shale revolution is just destroying its enemies, with record production of natural gas, growing exports and long desired energy security for the United States.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) is out with stunning statistics on the impacts of the shale revolution. The data is simply overwhelming; the shale revolution has made the U.S. energy dominant, bringing life to rural communities, inexpensive energy to cities and lowering emissions everywhere it’s substituted for coal and heavy oil.

Here’s the incredible news (emphasis added):

U.S. natural gas production grew by 10.0 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2018, an 11% increase from 2017. The growth was the largest annual increase in production on record, reaching a record high for the second consecutive year. U.S. natural gas production measured as gross withdrawals averaged 101.3 Bcf/d in 2018, the highest volume on record, according to EIA’s Monthly Crude Oil, Lease Condensate, and Natural Gas Production Report. U.S. natural gas production measured as marketed production and dry natural gas production also reached record highs at 89.6 Bcf/d and 83.4 Bcf/d, respectively.

And, here’s how it looks when graphed:

shale revolution

That’s the shale revolution you see from about 2007 onward. According to EIA, our U.S. natural gas gross withdrawals reached a record monthly high of 107.8 Bcf/d in December 2018. Marketed natural gas production and dry natural gas production (what we produce in Northeastern Pennsylvania) “also hit monthly record highs of 95.0 Bcf/d and 88.6 Bcf/d, respectively, in December 2018.”

This is why Pennsylvania has rocketed toward the top and is now hot on the heels of Texas as America’s natural gas leader, as the following chart demonstrates:

shale revolution

And, here are the essentials:

The Appalachian region remained the largest natural gas-producing region in the United States. Appalachian natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica/Point Pleasant shales of Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania continued to grow, with gross withdrawals increasing from 24.2 Bcf/d in 2017 to 28.5 Bcf/d in 2018. Ohio saw the largest percentage increase in gross withdrawals of natural gas, up 34%, in 2018 to 6.5 Bcf/d.

Texas saw the largest total volumetric gain in gross withdrawals in 2018, increasing to 24.1 Bcf/d, up from the state’s 2017 production of 21.9 Bcf/d. Texas’s increase in natural gas production is mainly because of the development in the Permian Basin and Haynesville Shale formation. According to EIA’s Drilling Productivity Report, in 2018, production in the Permian increased by 2.7 Bcf/d, or 32%, while production in the Haynesville increased by 2.2 Bcf/d, or 34%.

Notice that when we combine Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia production, this Appalachian region produces more natural gas than Texas. Just imagine that. The heart of natural gas production in the United States is now centered on Pittsburgh. Our region is also now sending gas to Texas, as we’ve noted earlier, and exporting it across the world. And, boy, are we ever exporting, turning the whole energy dependence thing on its head, as this chart demonstrates:

shale revolution

Look at that growth and consider these facts:

As natural gas production increased, the volume of natural gas exports—both through pipelines and as liquefied natural gas (LNG)—increased for the fourth consecutive year, reaching 9.9 Bcf/d. Total natural gas exports grew 14% in 2018, and LNG exports grew by 53% to 3.0 Bcf/d. Both pipeline and LNG exports reached record monthly highs in December 2018 of 7.7 Bcf/d and 4.0 Bcf/d, respectively. The United States continued to export more natural gas than it imported in 2018, after being a net exporter in 2017 for the first time in nearly 60 years.

In September 2018, the United States exported more natural gas by pipeline than it imported by pipeline for the first time in at least 20 years. Forecasts in EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook show that natural gas exports by pipeline will exceed natural gas imports by pipeline in 2019 for the year.

This the power of the shale revolution, which is rolling over its skeptics year by year.

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