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Lower 48 Gas Output Bounced Back in April, EIA Says

Buoyed by a 0.41 Bcf/d (1.9%) increase in Texas, natural gas production in the Lower 48 states reached 72.48 Bcf/d in April, a 0.8% increase compared with 71.92 Bcf/d in March and up a full 3.22 Bcf/d compared with April 2011, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) latest Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production report.

It was the largest month-to-month increase recorded since November, EIA said. The overall U.S. total (including Alaska) in April was 81.66 Bcf/d, a 0.3% decline compared with March but well ahead of the 78.79 Bcf/d U.S. total in April 2011.

In addition to the Lone Star state's increase to 22.32 Bcf/d, EIA reported increases in April in Oklahoma (5.43 Bcf/d, a 2.3% increase compared with March), and the "other states" category (22.10 Bcf/d, a 1.8% increase). Texas' increase came "as production resumed from shut-in wells and new wells were brought online," EIA said, while the "other states" results were attributed to new wells reported by several operators in the Marcellus Shale.

Month-to-month declines were reported in Alaska (9.18 Bcf/d, down 8.1% compared with March), Louisiana (8.21 Bcf/d, down 0.6%), Wyoming (6.30 Bcf/d, down 2.0%), the Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico (4.55 Bcf/d, down 3.0%) and New Mexico (3.57 Bcf/d, down 1.4%).

April ended with an estimated 2.61 Tcf in storage, about 46% more than the same time last year. For the week ending June 28, working inventories totaled 3,063 Bcf, according to EIA's Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, a 653 Bcf increase compared to last year and 613 Bcf above the 2007-2011 average. EIA has said it expects that inventory levels at the end of October will set a new record high at 4,096 Bcf.

Relatively warm weather during winter's final months and a halting economic upturn continued to keep a lid on natural gas sales during the first quarter of 2012, according to NGI's 1Q2012 Top North American Gas Marketers Ranking, which found a majority of companies reporting sales declining or flat compared with 1Q2011 (see NGI, June 18). Twenty-seven leading gas marketers reported combined sales transactions of 141.75 Bcf/d for 1Q2012, a less than 1% decline (0.73 Bcf/d) from 142.48 Bcf/d in 1Q2011.

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