Marcellus freezeoffs unlikely to rattle prices, supply: analysts

Thursday, December 08, 2011

With natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale roughly doubling in the past year, analysts are warning that an unseasonably cold winter in the Northeast could lead to widespread wellhead freeze-offs that could put a crimp in production from the region.

But the analysts, in interviews this week, said a significant price rise or supply shortage is unlikely because of record gas in storage and high production in other parts of the US that could easily move into the region.

"It would be hard for me to imagine there being a big impact," said Sean McEwen, an energy analyst with Bentek Energy, a unit of Platts. "If it does happen I would imagine it wouldn't be a big enough drop that storage couldn't make up for it. Storage fields are so full right now."

Gas in storage stood at 3.831 Tcf as of Friday, the US Energy Information Administration said Thursday, 102 Bcf above that of the same week last year and 307 Bcf above the five-year average.

According to McEwen, production in the Northeast was about 3.5 Bcf/d in December 2010, including nearly 2.5 Bcf/d from the Marcellus, and, so far this month, it has averaged nearly 7 Bcf/d, including more than 4.5 Bcf/d from the Marcellus.

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