UPDATE 2-Texas oil output surges, growth now outpacing North Dakota

Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:42pm EDT

* Texas oil output hits 2.45 million bpd in April -EIA

* North Dakota output nears 800,000 bpd -EIA (Adds details on growth in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, month on month production increases)

By David Sheppard

June 27 (Reuters) - Crude oil production in Texas has jumped by a third in just 12 months, government figures showed on Thursday, with booming output driven by the Eagle Ford shale fields and Permian Basin now outpacing growth in North Dakota.

Oil output in Texas hit 2.45 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its Petroleum Supply Monthly report, an increase of more than 33 percent in the past year, or more than 600,000 bpd.

At the same time, output in North Dakota, which includes most of the Bakken shale field at the heart of the U.S. oil renaissance, rose by 30 percent to 793,000 bpd from 610,000 bpd over the same period.

The difference in the growth rate, although small, marks the latest development in the U.S. shale oil boom, which started in North Dakota but has since spread to states with a longer tradition of major oil projects.

While North Dakota's oil output continues to hit new record levels, the slowdown in the pace of growth has also led some industry watchers to urge caution.

"North Dakotan growth rates have started to ease as Bakken output is flattening somewhat," said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at London-based consultancy Energy Aspects.

"A trend of slightly lower output from each well drilled is emerging. While cold weather may have played a role, it will certainly be worth monitoring this trend in the coming months."

Between March and April, Texas added 85,000 bpd of output, the EIA data showed, while North Dakota added 10,000 bpd.

The growth in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing - commonly referred to as "fracking" - has opened up new areas of production like North Dakota since 2008, where less than 140,000 bpd was previously pumped from conventional wells.

Rapid growth in U.S. oil production has led some to predict that North America could be energy independent by the end of the decade, sparking a debate about whether the United States should loosen its restrictions on exporting domestic oil.

Limited exports to Canada, which are already allowed with a permit, rose to 132,000 bpd in April, the highest level since March 2000. Almost half of the exports moving north to Canada came from the U.S. East Coast, the EIA data showed.

Canada remains a huge net exporter to the United States, with crude from the oil sands in Alberta flowing into the Midwest. (Reporting by David Sheppard and Matthew Robinson; Editing by David Gregorio, Theodore d'Afflisio and Eric Beech)

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