Natural gas production rises, despite falling prices

Natural gas production in the United States continues to rise, despite the  company moves to reduce exposure to low-price natural gas.

U.S. production of natural gas grew more than 5 percent to 22.1 trillion cubic feet during the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period in 2011, according to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration this week.

But demand for natural gas isn’t keeping up. The nation consumed 18.8 trillion cubic feet through September, about 4 percent more that the same period last year. That growth was driven almost solely by the power industry, as utilities switch from coal to natural gas to generate electricity. Use of gas for power generation grew 25 percent for the first nine months, according to the EIA report.

Meanwhile, use of natural gas for heating has dropped this year due to unusually warm temperatures during winter months. EIA data showed that residential customers cut their natural gas use by 18 percent for the first nine months and commercial customers cut consumption by 12 percent.

Even with natural gas production rising, rig counts in natural gas plays continue their rapid decline. There were 424 active natural gas rigs during the week ending Nov. 30, down from 856 a year earlier.