Expanding development activity in tight oil formations has also generated some increases in the production of natural gas. In the Bakken formation, for example, natural gas production has nearly tripled since the beginning of 2009. Much of this increase is from associated natural gas produced in conjunction with oil-directed drilling programs. In other areas, natural gas production has increased as operators expand drilling activity in the liquids-rich portions of shale formations.
Significant increases in tight oil production are also expected from emerging plays such as the Niobrara in Colorado, the Utica Shale in Ohio, the Bone Spring in east Texas, and the Monterey in California. Oil production from the Niobrara formation, for example, increased from about 15 thousand bbl/d in early 2007 to over 40 thousand bbl/d by the end of 2011. The rapid and significant increases in the number of drilling permits issued since the beginning of 2011 in Colorado and Ohio reflect the growing interest in tight oil and gas plays in those states.