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EIA Attributes Output Gains to New Marcellus, Haynesville Wells

Shale gas production in the Haynesville and Marcellus shales was the bright production star in February, while output in the traditional, maturer regions fell due to cold weather and maintenance/repairs, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) monthly natural gas report.

Nontraditional producing states (EIA combines their output into one figure) and Louisiana saw output gains of 1.6% or 0.28 Bcf/d, and 1.5%, or 0.11 Bcf/d, respectively in February, the latest month for which production figures are available, compared to January. The hikes were partly the result of new wells being brought online in the Marcellus and Haynesville shale plays, the agency said.

The more startling comparisons were year-to-year. The EIA 914 data showed that Louisiana gas production shot up nearly 38% to 7.43 Bcf/d from 5.39 Bcf/d in February 2010, while "other states'" production increased 16.5% during the same period.

Cold weather in February was to blame for gas production decreases in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming, which totaled 1.38 Bcf/d in the four states. Maintenance and repairs were responsible for a 5.1%, or 0.30 Bcf/d, production drop in Gulf of Mexico output, the EIA said.

Production in the Lower 48 states fell 1.9% from January to 65.49 Bcf/d in February, but it was up from last year's level of 63.40 Bcf/d. Lower 48 states' production contributed to the bulk of U.S. total output of 75.31 Bcf/d in February, which rose 1.1% from 74.50 Bcf/d in January and 3% from last year's level of 73.25 Bcf/d.

Alaska saw the greatest month-to-month growth in gas production, rising 27.2% to 9.82 Bcf/d in February from 7.71 Bcf/d. But the gas remains largely stranded due to the lack of a pipeline to the Lower 48 states.

Although its output level slid 4.7% to 20.16 Bcf/d in February, Texas still remains the largest onshore producer of natural gas. Wyoming's gas production steadily fell throughout 2010 and the trend has continued into the current year. Its output fell to 6.34 Bcf/d from 6.46 Bcf/d in January, and from 7.09 Bcf/d a year ago.

Bringing up the rear were Oklahoma and New Mexico, which saw production declines in February of 3.4% to 4.86 Bcf/d, and 2.9% to 3.35 Bcf/d, respectively.

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