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US natural gas production decline expected for sixth consecutive quarter

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Feb. 3 -- Raymond James & Associates Inc. said its pre-reporting fourth quarter 2002 US natural gas production survey suggests a sixth consecutive quarterly decline, analyst Marshall Adkins said.

The survey covered 29 of the largest US gas producers and represented 45% of total US production. RJA estimates a 0.6% decline by quarter sequentially and a 4.6% decline on a year-over-year basis.

The survey showed a wide disparity between different companies' estimated YOY production. Four companies estimated double-digit percentage increases in YOY production, while 9 companies estimated double-digit decreases in YOY production.

"Given the wide disparity in guidance, historical overly optimistic guidance, and the fact that weather in the fourth quarter was terrible, it is our belief that actual reported production will end up being much lower than the production guidance presented," Adkins said in a Jan. 21 research note.

"Furthermore, although the rig count bottomed in late March/early April, drilling activity has yet to increase to a level sufficient to overcome natural declines. Consequently, we are likely to continue seeing sequential declines in production for the foreseeable future," Adkins said.

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