The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently reported dry natural gas production from the Marcellus and Utica shale formations, which make up the Appalachian Basin, set record highs in the first half of this year. The EIA reports, “Production in the region reached 32.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) in December 2020, and it averaged 31.9 Bcf/d during the first half of 2021, the highest average for a six-month period since production began in 2008.”
The Appalachian Basin accounted for more than one-third of all US dry natural gas production in the first half of 2021, and on its own, would be the third-largest natural gas producer in the world behind Russia and the rest of the US.
The EIA also noted increased investment in pipeline infrastructure has been key to supporting this growth:
Record-high dry natural gas production in the first half of 2021 was made possible by growth in pipeline takeaway capacity that allows natural gas produced in the Appalachian Basin to reach other demand markets, especially in the Midwest. From 2008 to 2020, total pipeline takeaway capacity from the Northeast increased from 4.5 Bcf/d to 24.5 Bcf/d, alleviating some congestion and supporting higher wholesale natural gas prices in the region. Most of the increase in takeaway capacity happened between 2014 and 2020, when pipeline capacity increased by 16.5 Bcf/d, much of which was directed to the Midwest.
This record growth is key to strengthening the American economy and its energy security and national security interests. Policymakers should capitalize on this momentum and continue to support policies that encourage development of our energy resources and welcome investment in energy infrastructure.