Natural gas production in the Lower 48 states was 71.76 Bcf/d in March, a 0.26 Bcf/d (0.4%) decrease compared with 72.02 Bcf/d in February, according to the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) latest Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production report.

Texas had the largest decline at 0.15 Bcf/d (0.7%) as several operators reported shut-ins for well maintenance, EIA said. Declines in Louisiana (0.09 Bcf/d, or 1.1%) and New Mexico (0.08 Bcf/d, or 2.2%) were partially explained by well maintenance "and a few operators who cited low prices as a reason for limiting their production," EIA said.

But Lower 48 production was up 3.43 Bcf/d (5%) when compared with 68.33 Bcf/d in March 2011.

Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico production was 4.69 Bcf/d in March, a 0.16 Bcf/d (3.5%) increase compared with 4.53 Bcf/d in February, as production from shut-in wells resumed, EIA said.

Production was down in every other category in March compared with the previous month -- including the U.S. total, which was 81.75 Bcf/d (a 0.4% decline) -- according to the report. Production in the "other states" category was 21.67 Bcf/d, a 0.2% decrease compared with 21.72 Bcf/d in February. Alaska production was 9.99 Bcf/d (down 0.5%); Oklahoma was 5.31 Bcf/d (down 0.2%) and Wyoming was 6.42% (down 0.6%).

Lower 48 marketed natural gas production, which peaked at 2.111 Tcf in January, was 2.082 Tcf in March, a 4.9% increase compared with March 2011, according to EIA data. And total combined natural gas purchase and sales volumes reached 124,752 TBtu in 2011, a 2.5% increase compared with 121,682 TBtu in 2010, according to an analysis by Natural Gas Intelligence (NGI) of 2011 Form 552 filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (see Shale Daily, May 30).

The just-released 2011 552 data showed that while the rate of growth in combined volumes was down from the 6.0% year-to-year gain reported last year (see Shale Daily, July 14, 2011), the 2011 total yearly combined volume was the highest volume recorded since FERC began releasing the data in 2009 (see Daily GPI, June 29, 2009).

The slight dip in month-to-month production figures will likely need to be accelerated to make a dent in the current supply glut. April ended with an estimated 2.61 Tcf in storage, about 46% more than the same time last year.

For the week ending May 25, working inventories totaled 2,815 Bcf, according to EIA's Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, a 732 Bcf increase over the similar week last year and 724 Bcf above the 2007-2011 average. The EIA has said it expects that inventory levels at the end of October will set a new record high at 4,096 Bcf.