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Natural Gas

Gas production operations in Virginia reported 96.2 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas in 2017 with an estimated market value of $296 million.  Total gas production was about 20% lower than production reported for the previous year.

Generalized stratigraphic column showing productive intervals for oil, conventional gas, coalbed methane and coal

Natural gas is a mixture of methane (CH4), ethane (C2H6), propane (C3H8), and carbon dioxide (CO2).  The major markets for natural gas are residential and commercial uses such as space heating, water heating and cooking, and industrial uses such as process heating and chemical feedstock, transportation, and electric power generation.

The two types of natural gas produced in Virginia are: conventional gas, which has migrated from an organic source rock to a porous or fractured reservoir rock; and coal bed methane, which is adsorbed on the coal as it forms.  Conventional gas is produced from Devonian (354 to 417 million years old) shales, and Mississippian (323 to 354 million years old) limestones and sandstones of the Appalachian Basin, in the Appalachian Plateaus Province.  Coal bed methane is produced from the Norton, Lee (New River), and Pocahontas Formations of Pennsylvanian age (290 to 323 million years old) in the same physiographic region. 


Year of first production in Virginia: 1931
Location of first production in Virginia: Scott County
Year of last production in Virginia: currently producing
Location of production in Virginia: Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell, Lee, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties
Total cumulative production: 2,646 billion cubic feet since 1950


Natural gas production locations in Virginia

Figure 1. Natural gas production locations


Coal bed methane accounted for about 81.9 Bcf (85%) of total gas production in 2017, while conventional gas accounted for 14.3 Bcf (15%) of the total. A small amount of production, 0.13 Bcf, was reported from dual completion wells, which produce gas from both conventional reservoirs and coal bed methane reservoirs.

In 2017, operating gas wells included 6,390 coal bed methane wells, and 2,046 conventional wells.  There were 16 dual completion wells.  All of these wells are located within the Southwest Virginia Coalfield region that includes all or portions of Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise counties. Buchanan County accounted for the largest share of production, about 55 percent of the total. 

The value of natural gas produced in Virginia in 2017 was estimated to be $296 million.  This value is based on the annual average Henry Hub spot price reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) of $2.99 per million Btu.

Gas production in Virginia has been declining since 2011 when reported production peaked at 150.6 Bcf.  The total for 2017 is 20% lower than the comparable total reported for the previous year, despite a substantial increase (about 19%) in the average natural gas spot price starting in mid-2016.



Virginia Gas Production by Type

Figure 2. Natural gas production in billion cubic feet (Bcf), and value in millions of dollars



Data sources: Production from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, Division of Gas and Oil, Abingdon, Virginia (updated yearly). Unit price from the U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, Washington, D. C. (updated yearly). Data available upon request.


Current DGMR Natural Gas Projects:

Resource Assessment and Exploration Potential of the Devonian Gas Play in Virginia


Other Links:

Virginia Division of Gas and Oil

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Virginia Energy Patterns and Trends


Selected References:

Averitt, P., 1941, The Early Grove Gas Field, Scott and Washington Counties, Virginia, VDMR Bulletin 56, 50 p., 3 pls., 4 figs., 5 tables.

Gilmer, Amy K., Enomoto, Catherine B., Lovett, James A., and Spears, David B., 2005, Mineral and Fossil Fuel Production in Virginia (1999-2003): Virginia Division of Mineral Resource Open File Report 05-04, 77 p.

Jacobeen, F. H., Jr., 1992, Oil and Gas Well Analyses of Hydrocarbon Potential of Buchanan, Dickenson and Wise Counties, Virginia; VDMR Open-File Report 92-2, 17 p., 3 figs., 5 tables, 26 plates.

LeVan, D. C., and Rader, E. K., 1983, Relationship of Stratigraphy to Occurrences of Oil and Gas in Western Virginia; VDMR Publication 43, one sheet.

Milici, Robert C., and Upchurch, Michael L., 1991, VDMR Brochure “Oil and Gas in Virginia,” revised 2007.