Onshore fields bolstered 2006 US gas output

Alan Petzet
Chief Editor-Exploration

HOUSTON, Apr. 20 -- Land drilling bolstered US gas production in 2006, a warmer than normal year characterized by lower imports from Canada, reduced LNG imports from fewer countries, and above average storage levels, said the US Energy Information Administration.

All data are preliminary, EIA said, but total marketed gas production climbed 2% on the year to 19.34 tcf in 2006 even though 2005-06 Gulf of Mexico output fell due to hurricanes.

Gulf production, usually more than 20% of annual marketed US gas output, dropped 21% in 2005 and 13% through October 2006 to 15% of cumulative marketed production.

Marketed production outside the gulf as of October 2006 was 13.68 tcf, more than 4% higher than the 2005 level. Many producing states recorded gas output gains in 2006, and a majority of the increase came from the top three producing states, Texas, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. They accounted for 73% of the increase.

Texas gas output in the 10 months was 259 bcf or 5% on the year and 46% of the overall increase. An average 133 rigs were active in 2006 in Texas District 5, a 24-county area where the Barnett shale and several East Texas plays hold force. This was a 53-rig increase from 2005.

Oklahoma and Wyoming gas production each climbed 5%.

Transport and storage
To move gas from new wells, crews added 12.3 bcfd of gas pipeline capacity in the US in 2006, 50% more than they laid in 2005 and 44% more mileage.

The main driver was gas production in Colorado-Wyoming and Northeast Texas. Twenty-one of the 45 US gas pipeline projects completed in 2006 were located in the two areas. Three medium-to-large gas lines totaling 2.4 bcfd of capacity and 192 miles were added in the gulf.

EIA said 2006 US gas imports totaled 3.4 tcf, down 5%.

Gas imports from Canada grew in 2004-05 and stalled in 2006 at 3.6 tcf, down 103 bcf from 2005, because less gas was available from Canada despite slightly more production. LNG imports fell 8% to 584 bcf. The LNG came from four countries�Trinidad and Tobago, Egypt, Nigeria, and Algeria�considerably fewer countries than in previous years when the Middle East and Pacific Basin contributed.

Working gas in storage at the start of the 2006-07 heating season was 3.452 tcf, the highest level since 1990. The first ever weekly net injection (1 bcf) occurred during a winter season occurred in the week ended Dec. 29, 2005, and mid-2006 injections were well below average.

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