Natural gas production in the Lower 48 was 72.70 Bcf/d in December, down 1.1% (0.83 Bcf/d) compared with the previous month but up almost 1% (0.62 Bcf/d) over December 2011, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Similarly, total U.S. production was 82.57 Bcf/d in December, down 0.7% (0.62 Bcf/d) compared with November but up about 0.6% (0.51 Bcf/d) compared with the year-ago period.

The agency’s Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report, which was released Thursday, showed only Alaska producing more gas in December (9.87 Bcf/d) compared with November (9.66 Bcf/d). Louisiana had the largest sequential decrease at minus 3.1%, or 0.24 Bcf/d as some operators reported shut-ins, EIA said.

New Mexico production declined 3.9%, or 0.14 Bcf/d, month-to-month “mainly because of cold weather,” according to the report. Texas and the Gulf of Mexico posted decreases of 0.9%, or 0.19 Bcf/d, and 2.9%, or 0.12 Bcf/d, respectively as several operators reported shut-ins.

Production in Oklahoma was down 0.9%, or 0.05 Bcf/d from November to December; Wyoming was down 0.3%, or 0.02 Bcf/d; and the Other States category declined 0.3%, or 0.7 Bcf/d. Other States had the largest increase compared with a year before, putting out 24.19 Bcf/d in December 2012, up 3.29 Bcf/d from 20.90 Bcf/d in December 2011.

U.S. natural gas production totaled 27.22 Tcf for the first 11 months of 2012, compared with 25.94 Tcf during the same period in 2011 and 24.42 Tcf in 2010, according to EIA’s Monthly Energy Review for February, which was also released last week.

Total gross withdrawals of domestic natural gas jumped to 28.48 Tcf in 2011, a 6.2% increase from 26.82 Tcf in 2010, and when final 2012 numbers are released by EIA next month, are expected to have increased significantly for the year.

Net imports of natural gas were down, totaling 1.42 Tcf through November, compared with 1.80 Tcf in the first 11 months of 2011 and 2.39 Tcf in the first 11 months of 2010.

Natural gas from both the United States and Western Canada will feed about 30 million tonnes of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to international markets by 2025, according to one LNG analyst (see NGI, Feb. 25). The largest importer of U.S. natural gas currently is Canada, which took in 870 Bcf in the first 11 months of 2011, followed by Mexico (568 Bcf) and Japan (14 Bcf), EIA said.

Domestic consumption was on the rise, reaching 22.99 Tcf in November, compared with 21.86 Tcf in 2011 and 21.37 Tcf in 2010. Residential sector consumption was 3.51 Tcf during the period, down sharply from 4.03 Tcf in the first 11 months of 2011, and commercial consumption was down as well, reaching 2.52 Tcf through November, compared with 2.76 Tcf a year earlier.

But natural gas use in the electric power sector surged last year, reaching 8.55 Tcf through November, up 22.8% from 6.96 Tcf in the first 11 months of 2011, EIA said.

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