My last post on top oil producing counties received a good response, so I’m following up today with a look at the top natural gas producing counties. The 30 counties below produced half of all US natural gas in 2013.
As in my previous post, I’m using an expansive definition of county, so if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, feel free to mentally replace “county” with “county, quadrangle, or offshore protraction area”. There are no counties in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), but the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (BOEMRE) defines protraction areas which subdivide the gulf. Also, most of Alaska is lumped into a single “Unorganized Borough,” so I’m using US Geological Survey (USGS) quadrangles instead (https://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/quadmap.html).
Beechey Point, Alaska tops the gas list. However, these lists are based on gross withdrawals, rather than marketed production. Because of the geographic isolation of Alaska’s North Slope and the lack of transportation infrastructure, this gas is reinjected to maintain reservoir pressure, rather than sent to refineries. The fact that the most productive area of the country doesn’t contribute to our useable supply of natural gas highlights the importance of infrastructure constraints on supply.
The core producing counties of the well-known unconventional gas plays are all represented on the list.
- Haynesville: DeSoto (#3), Panola (#13), and Red River (#19)
- Barnett: Tarrant (#4), Johnson (#11), Wise (#21), and Denton (#28)
- Marcellus: Bradford (#5), Susquehanna (#6), Lycoming (#10), Greene (#14), Washington (#22), and Tioga (#29)
- Fayetteville: Van Buren (#16) and Conway (#27)
The list also contains a number of high producing counties in less well-known basins found in Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico.
US Natural Gas vs. Oil
Natural gas production is not as heavily concentrated geographically as oil production. I had to extend the list from the top 20 to the top 30 to capture half of gas production. Looking further down the list of counties, 80% of US oil in 2013 was produced from 79 counties, whereas 80% of gas came from 108 counties.
Another takeaway is that there’s not a great deal of overlap between top oil counties and gas counties. Only five of the top 30 gas counties show up on the top 20 oil counties list: Beechey Point (#1), Weld (#18), Eddy (#23), Mississippi Canyon (#25), and La Salle (#30). The map below shows the locations of both the top gas counties and top oil counties. Together, these areas produced just over half of all US gas and oil in 2013.
As with oil, the majority of natural gas production is concentrated in a relatively small number of counties. Not all of these areas receive equal media attention, so some of the counties on the list may be a surprise to you, as they were to me.
What do you think? Did any of these counties surprise you? How do you think the list will change a year from now? Leave a comment below.