America produced more natural gas last year than we ever have before, riding strong output growth from nearly every major onshore gas basin to rarified heights. The EIA reports:
U.S. natural gas production reached a record high level of 79 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2015, an increase of 5% from the previous year, even as natural gas prices remained relatively low. Production from five states—Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and North Dakota—was responsible for most of this growth, offsetting declines in much of the rest of the United States. […]
Natural gas production from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and North Dakota accounted for 35% of total U.S. natural gas production in 2015. In most cases, production in these states continued to increase in 2015, but at a slower pace than in the previous year. For instance, in Pennsylvania, the second-highest producing state, year-over-year natural gas production growth fell from 2.6 Bcf/d in 2014 to 1.5 Bcf/d in 2015.
In contrast, natural gas production growth continued to increase in Ohio, with production increasing by 1.4 Bcf/d in 2015, 41% higher than production growth in 2014. Most of the increase in Ohio’s natural gas production is from the relatively less-developed Utica Shale play. Production from the Utica Shale will likely grow in the future.
While collapsing prices have hurt producers extracting oil from shale and led to a tapering off of U.S. output over the past year, similar market conditions for natural gas haven’t been enough to keep American shale operators from reaching new highs for their output.
It’s true that we should qualify the successes of the shale boom over the past decade by acknowledging that the bearish crude market is making it harder for firms to keep the crude coming at the same pace. We should also note that today’s oversupplied market is going to make it especially difficult for America’s fledgling LNG exports to make much headway in the near future. Even still, America’s energy security is extraordinarily strong at the moment, and that’s all thanks to fracking.