Natural gas production in the US Lower 48 averaged 71.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d) in November, which is down about 0.46 bcf/d, compared to the October average, according to Platts Bentek, an analytics and forecasting unit of Platts, a provider of energy and commodities information. On a month-over-month basis, November natural gas production was down less than 1% from October.
"US natural gas production volumes in November did not live up to the expectations of the market, as the Northeast pipeline expansions underperformed," said Sami Yahya, Platts Bentek energy analyst. "The Northeast is the primary growth driver of production for the US, and the wave of new expansions that were brought online in November did not ramp up as quickly as expected. The Northeast grew only 0.3 bcf/d out of the approximately 1.5 bcf/d of new takeaway capacity."
Yahya explained that the combination of weaker demand, near-capacity storage fields, maintenance, and construction delays contributed to the underperformance of the projects. The Northeast is the only major region that saw month-over-month growth. The Southeast/Gulf region on average shed nearly 0.4 bcf/d this month. While maintenance was a factor in the decline, this sharp dip could be a signal that some producers are intentionally chocking back production due to the depressed pricing environment, Yahya said. The Rockies region lost about 0.2 bcf/d in volumes from October to November, as Texas and the Midcontinent region cut roughly 0.1 bcf/d each.
"Going at the rate it is going now, the Northeast is currently not very effective in offsetting production declines around the country," said Yahya. "However, as winter season comes on full throttle, it may lend the Northeast the needed push to not only reach new highs, but also eliminate the declining status of US gas production. The downside risk is that December typically brings along the freeze offs season, which could introduce further curtailments to production in many areas, inside and outside the Northeast."
The Platts Bentek data analysis suggests that 2015 US natural gas production will average 72 bcf/d, with more growth still expected through the end of the year. Such would mark a year-on-year growth of 3 bcf/d over 2014.