Despite drop in rig count, Barnett production stays flat: Bentek

Monday, November 05, 2012

Despite a more than one-third drop in the number of rigs drilling the Barnett Shale of North Texas, Barnett gas production is remaining flat or seeing only a very gradual decline, Bentek Energy analysts said Monday.

In its Production Monitor for the month of November, Bentek Energy said the number of oil and gas rigs drilling in the Barnett play declined by 12 over the last month, to 61 at the end of October.

Bentek is a unit of Platts.

"Vertical rig reductions account for most of the decline, which are down by eight compared with September. Since vertical rigs account for most of the drop, the reduction in rigs is not expected to have a major impact on future production," the analysts said.

The total Barnett rig count is less than two-thirds of the 96 rigs operating in the play in October 2011, Bentek said.

Yet, according to US Energy Information Agency data, gas production in the basin has seen only a very slight decline in the past year. Average gas production in September 2012, the most-recent month for which data was available, was 4.75 Bcf/d, compared with 4.80 Bcf/d for the same month in 2011.

"What we're seeing are a lot more efficiencies in drilling," Bentek energy analyst Ryan Smith said in an interview. "The time to drill a horizontal well in the Barnett has come down to 13 days; a year ago it was 14 days."

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