The Barnett Shale might be declining slower than many expected, but declining it is, to less than 5 billion cubic feet a day in recent months. Now, sharp-eyed readers might recall that we’ve reported this before — prematurely, as it turned out.
Last year, citing official Texas Railroad Commission and Powell Shale Digest figures, we said the big North Texas natural gas field dipped below 5 billion cubic feet in June 2013, which would have been its lowest production since December 2009. The Barnett peaked at 6.3 billion cubic feet a day in November 2011.
But as late reports dribbled into the agency, the Barnett’s output was adjusted upward to 5.2 bcf a day in June and it stayed above 5 bcf until December, when it slid to 4.84 bcf a day. Production bounced back above 5 billion in January, but remained below that admittedly arbitrary benchmark in February and March, according to the Powell Shale Digest.
“Given the huge drop in the number of new wells being drilled, it continues to amaze us how Barnett production has continued to hold up,” Powell Shale Digest editors commented. Incidentally, if you go to the Railroad Commission's site (recently redesigned, by the way) and run the numbers you'll get even lower figures. But Powell includes wells in the agency's Pending file, which don't show up in RRC reports but which affect reported production for the most recent months.
-- Jim Fuquay