April 28, 2017 / 5:32 PM / 2 years ago

U.S. lower 48 natgas output up by most in nearly 3 years in February: EIA

(Reuters) - U.S. gross natural gas output in the lower 48 states jumped by the most in almost three years to 80.2 billion cubic feet per day in February, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Friday in its monthly 914 production report.

The 1.8 bcfd increase in February over January was the biggest monthly increase since April 2014 and the first monthly increase in three months.

Gross production in February climbed to its highest since August 2016. That compares with the record 82.6 bcfd hit in February 2016.

Output increased in all three of the biggest lower 48 producing states - Texas, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma.

In Texas, the largest gas-producing state, output in February increased for the first month in 10, up 0.7 bcfd to 21.3 bcfd. That was the biggest monthly increase in the state since March 2011.

In Pennsylvania, output rose by 0.3 bcfd to a monthly record high of 15.2 bcfd in February. That was the fourth monthly increase in a row.

Production in Oklahoma increased by 0.2 bcfd to 6.5 bcfd in February. That was its biggest monthly increase since March 2015.

EIA also reported dry gas production for February, but did not break out individual states. U.S. dry production, including Alaska, increased to 72.1 bcfd in February from 70.7 bcfd in January. Monthly dry gas production peaked in April 2015 at 75.0 bcfd.

Gas production declined in 2016 for the first time since the start of the shale revolution a decade ago as low energy prices reduced drilling activity.

Next-day gas prices at the Henry Hub benchmark in Louisiana averaged $2.49 per million British thermal units in 2016, the lowest annual average since 1999. Prices averaged $2.61 in 2015, which before last year was also the lowest since 1999.

Before 2016, U.S. dry gas production last dropped in 2005 when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed into the Gulf Coast, damaging energy infrastructure along the Gulf of Mexico, which had been supplying more than 20 percent of the nation’s gas.

Since then, producers have figured out how to use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies to unlock more of the gas trapped in shale rocks.

Today, the seven biggest U.S. shale fields produce more than 60 percent of the nation’s gas, while the Gulf of Mexico accounts for around 4 percent of the total.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli

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