* Gross gas output in February at 1.8 percent above year ago
* "Other states" see 2.1 percent monthly volume increase
NEW YORK, April 30 Gross natural gas production
in the lower 48 U.S. states in February climbed 1.3 percent from
upwardly revised January output, the first monthly gain in three
months, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration
showed on Tuesday.
Lower 48 "wet" gas output in February totaled 73.22 billion
cubic feet per day, up from revised January output of 72.30
bcfd, the EIA said in its Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production
Lower 48 refers to gas production in the United States
excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
The EIA's previous estimate for January was 72.10 bcfd.
Monthly output in February rebounded to about 1.27 bcfd, or
1.8 percent, above the same month last year after slipping below
year-ago levels in January for the first time since February
2010, likely due to well freeze-offs from the cold.
Excess production relative to year-ago has been narrowing
since peaking at nearly 7 bcfd early last year. Some traders see
that as a possible sign that the steep drop in gas-directed
drilling was finally slowing overall output.
The "Other States" category saw the largest monthly volume
increase of 0.52 bcf per day, or 2.1 percent, as new wells were
brought on line in the Marcellus and Bakken shale plays.
New wells in the Eagle Ford shale lifted production in Texas
by 0.3 bcfd, or 1.4 percent.
The Gulf of Mexico reported a 2 percent decline in output as
repairs and well maintenance required shut-ins, EIA said.
Gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange,
which were down about 2 cents at $4.372 per mmBtu just before
the EIA data was released at about noon EDT (1600 GMT), fell
another 5 cents after the report.
OUTPUT NOT SLOWING MUCH YET
Gross gas output posted a record high of 73.78 bcf per day
in November and is still hovering not far below that level
despite that the Baker Hughes gas-directed rig count has slid to
a 14-year low.
Drilling for natural gas has mostly been in decline for the
past 18 months, but production so far has not slowed much, if at
all, from the record high hit last year.
The associated dry gas produced from more-profitable shale
oil and shale gas liquids wells has kept gas flowing at or near
a record pace.
The EIA recently estimated that marketed gas output in 2013
will hit a record high for the third straight year.
Gross withdrawals, according to EIA, are converted to
marketed natural gas production by subtracting gas used for
repressuring, quantities vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon
gases removed in treating or processing operations.