Many Americans are likely familiar with North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation, and there’s a chance a number have heard of Texas’s Eagle Ford and Permian basins, but over the past few years there’s been a quiet uprising in oil and gas production in the Northeast’s Appalachian basin. The EIA reports:
Production of oil and natural gas in the Appalachian Basin’s Utica play—which includes both the Utica and Point Pleasant formations—has increased significantly since 2012. Monthly natural gas production from Utica wells increased from 0.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in December 2012 to more than 3.5 Bcf/d in June 2016. Oil production increased from 4,400 barrels per day (b/d) to nearly 76,000 b/d over the same period.
Let us do the math for you: that’s a 3,400 percent increase in natural gas production and a 1,627 percent increase in oil production in this region, all occurring in less than four years. When we talk about the transformative power of the shale revolution, this is what we’re speaking of.
The EIA makes the point that most of the hydrocarbons coming out of this particular set of shale plays are natural gas, and on that front there’s been some remarkable progress recently:
The rapid growth in Utica/Point Pleasant natural gas production since 2012 is attributable to increases in drilling efficiency, proximity to markets, improvements in business processes, resource targeting in stacked plays, and the lengthening of horizontal laterals. Relatively low oil prices and expansions in natural gas infrastructure make the natural gas-rich portions of the reservoir more desirable for development, and therefore, increasingly the target for operators.
Across the country, America’s energy security is looking stronger than ever, thanks to the diligent and innovative efforts of the shale industry. Our oil production is up, and relatedly gasoline prices are down. The country is awash in cheap natural gas, so much so that we’re now scrapping plans to construct LNG import terminals (plans envisioned just a decade ago!) in favor of exporting our glut of gas. And as companies continue to refine their methods and discover new, better, cheaper, and faster ways to frack, the future is only looking brighter.