Keep on Growing - An Update on Marcellus/Utica Natural Gas Processing and Fractionation

Natural gas production in the U.S. Northeast has been increasing steadily through the 2010s and now averages about 32 Bcf/d — 12% higher than last August and nearly double where it stood five years ago — despite the lowest regional spot gas prices since early 2016. This run-up in production volumes wouldn’t have been possible without the new gas-processing and fractionation capacity that MPLX and other midstream companies have been bringing online at a steady pace in the “wet” or NGLs-rich parts of the Marcellus and Utica shales. Today, we begin a short blog series on recently completed and planned gas-processing and fractionation projects in the nation’s largest gas-producing region, and the gas production growth they will help enable.

Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terry Bradshaw earned a reputation as an old-school, tough-as-nails quarterback, the sort who would play through his many injuries and do whatever it took to win games and championships. (Don’t forget the “Immaculate Reception” — a seemingly broken-up pass by Bradshaw that miraculously ended up in the hands of Steelers fullback Franco Harris, who ran in to score a playoff-game-winning touchdown in December 1972.) Terry took the Steelers to four Superbowls in six years, and they won each and every time. He just kept on producing — and posted a record strong enough to put him in the Pro Football Hall of Fame the first year he was eligible. The same grit and growth has been a hallmark of the Marcellus/Utica production region, which since the start of the Shale Era has produced more and more gas and NGLs year after year, and which quickly became the U.S.’s largest gas producer — currently accounting for about one-third of total U.S. gas output (orange layer in Figure 1). RBN forecasts that Northeast production will increase to nearly 40 Bcf/d by 2024, a gain of about 25%.

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