Report: US natural gas production in October little changed from September

Natural gas production in the Lower 48 US averaged 71.9 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in October, a decline of more than 0.5 Bcf/d, or 1%, from September, according to Platts Bentek, an analytics and forecasting unit of Platts.

From a broader perspective, the October production is 0.2 Bcf/d less than the August average. The US Energy Information Administration will publish its domestic production estimates for September on or around Nov. 30.      

"Almost the entirety of the October production drop can be attributed to the Southeast/Gulf and Texas regions," said Sami Yahya, Platts Bentek energy analyst. "Production in the Southeast shed about 0.3 Bcf/d in October, a direct result of various scheduled maintenance events that curtailed offshore volumes. In Texas, production also dipped by 0.3 Bcf/d. The combined decline of both regions was slightly offset by an uptick in Rockies production of about 0.1 Bcf/d over the same time period."

Maintenance events are more common in the months leading up to the winter, as pipeline companies try to ensure smoother operations when peak demand and constant high pipe utilization materialize, Platts Bentek said in its latest report. Historically, maintenance events or shut-ins in the Southeast and Texas would be offset, at least in part, by production in the Northeast. However, last month, the Northeast experienced its own heavy set of maintenance.

"A number of new Northeast expansion projects have come online ahead of their scheduled November release date," Yahya said. "But they still failed to ramp up volumes, given that the traditional winter demand surge has yet to arrive. Being the primary driver of US gas production growth, the Northeast has helped US production to stay afloat until now."

A number of delays to the new expansion projects have curtailed incremental growth, and it is difficult to determine when the remaining projects that have not fully come online will start service, Yahya said.

Platts Bentek analysis suggests 2015 US natural gas production will average approximately 72.2 Bcf/d, with growth occurring throughout the year. This would mark a year-on-year growth of 3.4 Bcf/d over 2014.

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