U.S. natural gas exploration and production (E&P) companies have reduced output in response to high inventories and the low price environment, but now the query is, when might production return? Price will tell, according to analysts.

Lower 48 natural gas output has fallen below 100 Bcf/d, down from record highs around 107 Bcf/d early this year, after Chesapeake Energy Corp., EQT Corp. and others eased activity to address an oversupplied market.

A major question for the market in April has been whether EQT, the largest gas producer in the country, would reverse its cuts of 1 Bcf/d of gross production made in late February. The company had said it would maintain the curtailment through March and reassess market conditions afterward.

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