Louisiana helps fuel nationwide natural gas boom

10 05, 2013 by The Times-Picayune

The U.S. is overtaking Russia as the world's largest producer of combined oil and natural gas output, and local experts say Louisiana is contributing to this unexpected shift in the global energy market.

The Wall Street Journal reported the boom in U.S. energy output is largely because of high output from shale-rock formations, first tapped into during the last decade. Last year, the U.S. accessed more natural gas than Russia for the first time since 1982, according to the article written by Russell Gold and Daniel Gilbert.

Louisiana is one of the country's top natural gas producers. The state accounts for a little under 10 percent of total natural gas production in the nation. The bulk of Louisiana's activity take place in DeSoto Parish, where the Haynesville Shale is located. Desoto sites, by themselves, make up 6.5 percent of U.S. natural gas production, said Patrick Courreges of the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources.

"We've roughly tripled our natural gas production in the last five years," he said.

Before 2008, the U.S. was a net importer of natural gas. But new technology, like hydraulic fracturing, has made it easier and more affordable to access natural gas in recent years. The Haynesville Shale was not the first site where new extraction methods could be used, but it was among the most important.

"It was one of the ones that really drove the excitement through the area," said Gifford Briggs, vice president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, "Those shales are the main driver in why we are beginning to see these milestones that we are achieving in natural gas production."

However, the gains Louisiana has made in natural gas haven't transferred over to the state's oil production. The Bakken oil field in North Dakota and Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas continue to lead the U.S. surge in crude oil, and Louisiana hasn't kept up.

"From an oil standpoint, we are contributing nothing. Unfortunately, we are experiencing the lowest rig count in Louisiana's history right now," said Briggs.