U.S. continues to lead in natural gas production

EIA report shows widening gap in output, general stability in petroleum production.

By Bob Vavra May 23, 2016

For the fifth year in a row, the United States leads the world in the production of natural gas, and that lead is widening.

In its "Today In Energy" report on May 23, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported that the U.S. natural gas output reached nearly 60 quadrillion BTUs in 2015, up from about 55 quadrillion BTUs in 2014 and 50% higher than the 40 quadrillion BTUs the U.S, produced in 2009.

In comparison, Russia’s natural gas output has remained relatively flat at just over 40 quadrillion BTUs, and Saudi Arabia is a distant third at about 28 quadrillion BTUs.

"For the United States and Russia, total petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbon production, in energy content terms, is almost evenly split between petroleum and natural gas. Saudi Arabia’s production, on the other hand, heavily favors petroleum," said EIA officials in their report.

"Although Russian petroleum production continued to increase, natural gas production declined because of poor economic conditions and a mild winter, which resulted in lower domestic demand for natural gas," the EIA added. "Russia’s total combined production of petroleum and natural gas increased by just 0.1 quadrillion Btu in 2015."

A further analysis by the EIA on overall energy prices showed the disconnection between the petroleum and natural gas prices. "Throughout 2015, U.S. crude oil prices remained relatively low, with the spot price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil declining from $47 per barrel in January to $37 per barrel in December. Despite low crude oil prices and a 60% drop in the number of operating oil and natural gas rigs, U.S. petroleum supply still increased by 1.0 million barrels per day in 2015," the report stated. "U.S. natural gas production increased by 3.7 billion cubic feet per day, with nearly all of the increase occurring in the eastern United States."

In its Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), the EIA sees little movement in the overall production levels for the world’s three largest petroleum producers. "U.S. petroleum and other liquid fuels production is expected to decline from 15.0 million barrels per day (b/d) in 2015 to about 14.5 million b/d in both 2016 and 2017. In contrast, STEO forecasts Russian liquid fuels production to remain at about 11.0 million barrels per day through 2017," the report stated. "STEO publishes a production forecast for Middle Eastern members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) as a whole rather than for individual countries in the region. However, there is currently no indication now Saudi Arabia plans to reduce its current level of petroleum production."

Original content can be found at Control Engineering.