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Today in Energy

February 17, 2022

U.S. marketed natural gas production forecast to rise in 2022 and 2023

U.S. monthly marketed natural gas production
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), February 2022

We forecast that U.S. natural gas marketed production will increase to an average of 104.4 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in 2022 and then further increase to a record-high 106.6 Bcf/d in 2023, according to our latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO). Around 97% of production over the next two years will come from the Lower 48 states (L48), excluding the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico (GOM). The other 3% will come from Alaska and the GOM.

We estimate that the wholesale spot price of natural gas at the U.S. benchmark Henry Hub will average $3.92 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2022, an eight-year high, and will average $3.60/MMBtu throughout 2023. We expect these elevated prices will drive continued increases in U.S. drilling activity and natural gas production.

We forecast that legacy production—production from wells drilled before December 2021—in the L48 will average 83.2 Bcf/d in 2022 and fall 21% to 65.9 Bcf/d in 2023. However, production from new wells will contribute 18.1 Bcf/d in 2022 and increase to 37.8 Bcf/d in 2023, offsetting declining production from legacy wells and bringing total L48 marketed gas production to 103.7 Bcf/d in 2023.

U.S. natural gas production growth will primarily come from the Appalachia region in the Northeast, the Permian region in western Texas and southeastern New Mexico, and the Haynesville region in Texas and Louisiana.

Haynesville production will grow by 1.6 Bcf/d annually, on average, in the next two years, according to our STEO forecast. As natural gas prices remain elevated, drilling in the Haynesville region remains economical, even with relatively deeper and more expensive well development. In addition, Haynesville’s greater well productivity and its proximity to liquefied natural gas export terminals and major industrial natural gas consumers along the U.S. Gulf Coast draws operators to the region.

We forecast that the Permian region will contribute 2.2 Bcf/d to production growth in 2022 and 1.2 Bcf/d in 2023. Our forecast for the West Texas Intermediate crude oil price remains above $60 per barrel, prompting operators to increase oil-directed drilling activity in the region, which would also increase associated gas production.

In recent years, the Appalachia region has provided the largest share of U.S domestic natural gas output, accounting for one-third of L48 production annually since 2016. Although production growth has slowed in recent years because of less drilling activity and emerging pipeline capacity constraints, Appalachia well-level productivity has been increasing, offsetting some of the drilling decline. We estimate that production from the Appalachia region will grow by 0.3 Bcf/d in 2022 and 0.7 Bcf/d in 2023.

forecast change in annual Lower 48 marketed natural gas production
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Short-Term Energy Outlook, February 2022

Principal contributor: Naser Ameen