If the United States continues to produce as much natural gas as it has in the year's first five months, the country will see a 35-year high in annual production in 2008.
Is that too much of a good thing, at least from a producer's point of view?
Thanks in large part to the drilling boom in the Barnett Shale and other new natural gas fields, U.S. natural gas production is up nearly 9 percent through May. At that rate, output this year will rise to nearly 22 trillion cubic feet, the highest since 1973s 22.6 trillion cubic feet, the all-time record.
Meanwhile, there are more active U.S. drilling rigs than at any time since 1985, according to the Baker Hughes rig count. There were 1,967 rigs working across the country and offshore, up 88 rigs, or 5 percent, from a year earlier, the Houston-based oilfield supplier said.
And four out of five of those are looking for natural gas.
Last week, the Energy Information Administration released its latest short-term outlook for natural gas, which predicted an 8 percent gain in production for 2008. And in 2009, EIA said, "production is expected to increase by 3.7 percent," enough to roughly match the 1973 peak.
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