EIA: U.S. shale gas production levels depend on several factors

The United States Energy Information Administration expects shale gas production to reach 79 billion cubic feet per day by 2040, however, several side cases in its Annual Energy Outlook 2016, show the production level depends on a number of factors. 

Shale gas production in the United States increased significantly from 2010 to 2015, EIA said, mostly driven by technological improvements that have reduced drilling costs and improved efficiency in shale plays such as Bakken, Marcellus and Eagle Ford.

Natural gas production from shale gas plays in 2015 accounted for 37.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), or 50 percent of total U.S. natural gas production. In the outlook’s reference case the natural gas production from shale gas plays is expected to increase through 2040.

The two Appalachian shale gas plays, the Marcellus and Utica, have factors favorable for production: shallower geologic formation depths and proximity to consuming markets, EIA said.

Both shale plays remained resilient to the low natural gas prices and both are expected to contribute over 40 percent of total U.S. shale gas production by 2040.

Even in the higher and lower oil price side cases, the production of shale gas is projected to rise.

In the resource and technology side cases, shale gas recovery is 50 percent higher than the reference case, while rates of technological improvement that reduce costs and increase productivity in the United States are also 50 percent higher, EIA said.

These cases result in greater differences from reference case production values compared to the alternative oil price cases.