EIA Forecasts US Natural Gas Production Will Increase in 2022

By U.S. Energy Information Administration

In the December 2021 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that U.S. dry natural gas production will increase from 95.1 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in October 2021 to 97.5 Bcf/d by December 2022, an increase of 2.4 Bcf/d (2.5%).

If realized, the December 2022 forecast production level will exceed the previous record of 97.2 Bcf/d, which was set in November 2019. The November 2019 record was set before COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and before the COVID-19-associated declines in demand resulted in production declines to a low of 87.3 Bcf/d in May 2020. Dry natural gas production has generally risen since October 2020. Natural gas production remained above 92.0 Bcf/d in 2021, except in February, when a winter storm substantially affected oil and natural gas production in Texas.

The forecast for natural gas production is influenced by expectations for natural gas production from newly drilled gas-directed wells, natural gas production from existing wells, and the amount of associated natural gas resulting from oil production. The number of natural gas-directed rigs—rigs drilling primarily in natural gas-bearing formations—decreased throughout 2019 and into 2020. In August 2020, the rig count was at its lowest monthly average since 1987 (the earliest year of available data). Since August 2020, the natural gas-directed rig count has generally increased, averaging 102 rigs in November 2021, but remains about 40% lower than the average monthly count in 2019.

In both the Haynesville region and the Appalachian Basin, according to our Drilling Productivity Report, we expect dry natural gas production will set new highs this December as a result of both increased drilling activity and output per well. Associated natural gas production also increased because producers have been completing wells from their inventories of drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells, which peaked in June 2020. Increases in both the number of natural gas-directed rigs and in associated natural gas production are expected to result in growing dry natural gas production in our December STEO forecast.

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