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Challenging times to continue for oil and gas

BECKLEY, W.Va. — “Lower for longer” are the words being used to describe the oil and natural gas economic outlook for 2016, creating another whack at West Virginia’s energy sector.

U.S. natural gas production could decline in 2016 for the first time in a decade, driven by low oil prices after 10 years of gangbusters growth from shale plays.

 To understand the decline in the shale market, look no further than the north-central part of West Virginia. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says production in that fast-growing field will decline primarily because of depressed gas prices.

Recent data supports signs of a slowdown. The number of rigs in the state’s oilfields has dwindled in recent months to its lowest since 2011, and drillers — including Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. — have temporarily shut down some production due to weak regional prices.

“Relatively low gas prices, combined with low oil prices, have slowed drilling in the Marcellus (Shale) so production from new wells is only offsetting the decline in old wells,” said EIA lead upstream analyst Dana Van Wagener.

The EIA forecast prices in parts of the Marcellus would remain below $2 through 2016 and not exceed $4 until 2020…

 

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