February 18, 2020 / 7:46 PM / 6 months ago

U.S. shale oil output to rise to record, natgas output to drop in March: EIA

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. shale oil output is expected to rise by about 18,000 barrels per day (bpd) in March to a record 9.18 million bpd, driven by gains in the Permian Basin, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Tuesday.

Still, output is expected to remain flat or decline in six out of seven major shale formations. U.S. natural gas output in the big shale basins was projected to decrease for a third straight month in March, posting the biggest drop since January 2019, the data showed.

The Permian and Bakken regions have been the biggest drivers of a shale oil boom that helped make the United States the biggest oil producer in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia and Russia.

However, the rate of growth has slowed as independent producers cut spending on new drilling and completions to focus more on improving earnings results.

Oil production at the largest formation, the Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico, is expected to rise 39,000 bpd to a new record of 4.86 million bpd. That would be the smallest monthly increase since September, the data showed.

Production from North Dakota and Montana’s Bakken region is expected to fall - for the fourth straight month - by about 2,000 bpd to about 1.47 million bpd.

U.S. natural gas output from shale formations is expected to drop by about 0.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to 85.4 bcfd in March.

Natural gas output in the Appalachia region, the biggest U.S. shale gas formation, was set to decline by 0.2 bcfd to 33.13 bcfd in March. That would mark the fourth straight month of declines.

In the Permian, gas output is expected to jump by about 0.2 bcfd to a new record of 17 bcfd in March.

EIA said producers drilled 1,014 wells - the least since June 2017 - and completed 1,048 in the biggest shale basins in January, leaving total drilled but uncompleted (DUC) wells down 34 to 7,682, the lowest since November 2018.

Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar; editing by Nick Macfie and Tom Brown

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