Pace of Marcellus, Utica natgas output to accelerate -ICF report

HOUSTON, June 26 Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:44pm EDT

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HOUSTON, June 26 (Reuters) - Natural gas production in the prolific Marcellus and Utica shale formations is projected to grow 36 percent by 2035 as improvement in drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology continues, ICF International said in its latest quarterly report.

Abundant sources of natural gas are expected to spur increased demand for gas from new petrochemical plants and other expanded manufacturing facilities, from exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), for transportation and for power generation as pollution standards tighten.

The ICF report said gas output from Marcellus and Utica plays may grow to 34 billion cubic feet (Bcf) per day by 2035, up from the 25 Bcf per day projected in the first quarter report.

ICF attributes part of the 9-Bcf per day jump to the fact that Utica wells are "more gassy" than initially expected. "Gas production growth from the Utica wells is expected to be much greater," ICF said.

Increased drilling and fracking efficiency is expected to boost the output of each well over time, also called "estimated ultimate recovery" per well, ICF said.

Well data from producers suggests ultimate recovery of gas in the Marcellus will average 6.2 Bcf per well, up from 5.2 Bcf per well in the last report, ICF. Utica gas recovery is projected to average 3.3 Bcf per well, up from 2.5 Bcf in the last report.

Unlike most conventional oil and gas formations, production in shale regions continues to rise even as the U.S. rig count has fallen.

As each rig drills more wells, ICF expects more wells to be completed and able to produce, according to the report.

In the Marcellus, ICF expects about 2,050 wells per year to be completed, up from 1,750 wells per year in the last report.

In the Utica, ICF projects 500 well completions per year compared to 395 wells per year in the last quarterly report.

Major energy companies including Exxon Mobil, Chesapeake Energy and Anadardo Petroleum, along with a number of smaller independent producers, are active in developing U.S. shale resources.

Overall, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects U.S. gas production in 2014 to rise 73 Bcf per day and to 74 Bcf per day in 2015, primarily due to rising Marcellus output. (Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston; Editing by David Gregorio)

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