March 29, 2019 / 5:17 PM / 23 days ago

U.S. crude output eases from record to 11.9 million bpd in January: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. crude oil production edged lower in January to 11.87 million barrels per day, from a revised record 11.96 million bpd in December, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a monthly report on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: A pump jack stands idle in Dewitt County, Texas January 13, 2016. REUTERS/Anna Driver

Production in Texas fell by 64,000 bpd in the month and in North Dakota output rose by 9,000 bpd. Meanwhile, production in the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico was largely unchanged, according to the report.

The decline in Texas, home to the Permian basin, the biggest oil patch in the United States, was the first in about a year, the data showed.

A surge in shale production vaulted the United States to the position of world’s biggest producer last year, but an unexpected crash in oil prices in the fourth quarter forced some producers to pull back on spending and drilling plans for 2019.

Independent producers are slowing exploration and cutting staff and budgets amid investor pressure to control spending and boost returns.

For example, Pioneer Natural Resources recently dropped a pledge to hit 1 million bpd by 2026 amid pressure from investors to boost returns. It shifted its emphasis to generating cash flow and replaced its chief executive after posting fourth quarter profit that missed Wall Street earnings targets by 36 cents a share.

Total U.S. oil demand growth was largely flat in January compared with last year as consumer demand for motor fuels was in line with last year, according to additional monthly EIA data released on Friday.

U.S. total oil demand was down just 9,000 bpd, less than 0.1 percent in January, hitting 20.45 million bpd, EIA data shows.

U.S. gasoline demand ticked up 1,000 bpd, or less than 0.1 percent, to 8.74 million bpd and distillate demand fell 39,000 bpd, or 0.09 percent, to 3.36 million bpd, the data shows.

Meanwhile, gross natural gas production in the Lower 48 U.S. states fell for the first time in a year, sliding to 98.12 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) in January from a record high 98.29 bcfd in December, according to the EIA’s 914 production report.

The last time gas output in the Lower 48 declined was in January 2018 when production fell by 1.56 bcfd.

In Texas, the nation’s largest gas producer, output eased by 0.1 percent to 25.86 bcfd in January from a record high 25.89 bcfd in December. That compares with 22.03 bcfd in January 2018.

In Pennsylvania, the second-biggest gas-producing state, production rose to a record high 18.56 bcfd in January, up 2.1 percent from 18.18 bcfd in December. That compares with output of 16.14 bcfd in January 2018.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar, Scott DiSavino and Jarrett Renshaw in New York; Editing by Marguerita Choy

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