January 17, 2017 / 8:16 PM / 3 years ago

U.S. shale oil output set to grow in February as prices rise

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. shale production is set to snap a three-month decline in February, the U.S. government said on Tuesday, as energy firms boost drilling activity with crude prices hovering near 18-month highs.

A pumpjack brings oil to the surface in the Monterey Shale, California, U.S. April 29, 2013. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

The month-on-month increase in production would be the first since October and the third rise in a year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s drilling productivity report.

February production will edge up 40,750 barrels per day (bpd) to 4.748 million bpd, the EIA said. In January, it was expected to drop by 5,900 bpd.

In the Permian Basin in West Texas and eastern New Mexico, output is set to rise by 53,000 bpd to 2.180 million bpd, the data showed.

North Dakota’s Bakken oil production was set to drop by 20,000 bpd to 978,000 bpd. Eagle Ford oil output from Texas was set to drop by 3,000 bpd to 1.042 million bpd.

U.S. crude futures were trading around $53 a barrel on Tuesday, not far below 18-month highs set earlier in January, as members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC countries followed through on plans to cut output at the start of the year in an effort to boost prices and cut the global oversupply. [O/R]

Total U.S. natural gas production was forecast to increase in February for a third month in four to 48.0 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd), the EIA said. That would be up over 0.3 bcfd from January.

The biggest regional decline was expected to be in the Eagle Ford, down almost 0.1 bcfd to 5.5 bcfd in February, the lowest level of output in the basin since November 2013, the EIA said.

Output in the Marcellus Formation in Pennsylvania and West Virginia was set to rise by almost 0.2 bcfd to 18.6 bcfd in February, a fourth consecutive increase.

EIA also said producers drilled 712 wells and completed 545 in the biggest shale basins in December, leaving total drilled but uncompleted wells (DUCs) up 167 at 5,379, the most since April.

Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Rigby

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