Pennsylvania is the fastest-growing state in the U.S. when it comes to natural gas production, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.

From 2011 to 2012, gas production grew here by 72 percent. That pushed Pennsylvania’s rank from seventh place to third place nationally. The EIA expects the commonwealth to finish in second place, behind Texas, when all of the 2013 data is calculated.

EIA 12-17 graphDuring the first half of this year, the state’s Marcellus Shale produced 1.4 trillion cubic feet of gas– a 57 percent increase compared to the same time period from last year.

Companies report production figures to the state Department of Environmental Protection twice a year. The numbers for the second half of 2013 are due in February.

From the EIA:

Pennsylvania also saw the largest volume and percentage increases in marketed gas [which includes natural gas plant liquids]. West Virginia, which is also located in the Marcellus Shale play, joined the ranks of the top 10 largest U.S. producers for the first time in 2012, producing 146 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of additional marketed gas compared with the 2011 level.

Production in the Marcellus region has grown so substantially that spot prices in the Northeast may continue to drop further below the Henry Hub spot price in the future. Texas, home to the Eagle Ford Shale play, grew 5% year-on-year, and stands as the largest gas-producing state by far.

In a preliminary report released yesterday, the EIA says it expects natural gas to surpass coal as the dominant source of electric power generation by 2040.