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Lower 48 Production Bounces Back from February Lows

Production in the Lower 48 states recovered in March from the weather-induced decrease seen in the previous month (see Daily GPI, May 4), increasing 3.8% (2.49 Bcf/d) to 68 Bcf/d from 65.51 Bcf/d in February, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) monthly natural gas report.

All areas in the Lower 48 posted increases except the federal offshore Gulf of Mexico, which fell 0.4% to 5.51 Bcf/d, compared with 5.53 Bcf/d in the previous month.

Production in Texas surged to 21.40 Bcf/d in March, the latest month for which production figures are available, up 6.1% from 20.17 Bcf/d in February; Louisiana increased 4.1% to 7.82 Bcf/d; Oklahoma increased 4.1% to 5.04 Bcf/d; Wyoming increased 1.3% to 6.42 Bcf/d; and New Mexico increased 10.4% to 3.70 Bcf/d, EIA said. Cold weather in February had prompted production decreases in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming.

Production in Alaska was up only marginally to 9.83 Bcf/d in February, compared with 9.82 Bcf/d in February.

Total U.S. output was up 3.3% to 77.83 Bcf/d in March, compared with 75.33 Bcf/d in February, and up 3.51 Bcf/d (4.7%) compared with March 2010.

Louisiana's production increase and that of nontraditional producing states (EIA combines their output into one figure), which was up 1.9% to 18.11 Bcf/d, came as drilling activity continues in the Marcellus and Haynesville shale plays, the agency said. The EIA 914 data shows that Louisiana gas production increased 2.19 Bcf/d (39%) between March 2010 and March 2011, while "other states" production increased 17% during the same period.

A reduction in natural gas imports and growth in exports resulted in net imports to the United States of 177 Bcf in March, according to a preliminary estimate by EIA. Exports for the month totaled about 140 Bcf, the highest level since data collection began in 1973, while imports totaled 317 Bcf, the lowest level for March since 2000.

Most exports and imports were made through pipelines to and from Canada and Mexico. The United States also exported 5 Bcf to Japan, Mexico and the United Kingdom as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and imported 38 Bcf from Egypt, Peru, Qatar, Trinidad and Tobago and Yemen as LNG, EIA said.

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