Analysts take issue with assessment of US shale gas play hierarchy

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Although the US Energy Information Administration recently reported that the Haynesville Shale in February overtook the Barnett Shale in natural gas production, other analysts have weighed in to say "not so fast."

Citing pipeline flow data supplied by Bentek Energy, the EIA earlier in March reported that gas production from the Haynesville overtook the Barnett's volumes in early to mid-February, even after the Barnett's recovery from winter's well freeze-offs earlier in the month.

Using data compiled by Bentek Energy, a unit of Platts, the EIA said Barnett Shale production had been stable at about 5.35 Bcf/d in the first few weeks of the year but fell off sharply in the first third of February, before recovering to about 5.25 Bcf/d by the middle of last month.

However, following EIA's release of that report, several analysts who track shale gas basin production took issue with it, saying that their data indicates that the Barnett is still the top-producing US shale play.

For his part, Matt Marshall, Bentek senior energy analyst, defended the company's research and stood by the methodology used in its report to EIA.

He said he took issue with the contention that state-level production numbers were the only trustworthy source of data, pointing out that sometimes such data is as much as five months out of date.

"Some of these shale plays are growing really quickly, too quickly if you are only going to trust production data with a five-month lag," he said.

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