U.S. dry natural gas production plummeted during the Arctic freeze that descended upon Texas last week, hitting a low of 69.7 billion Bcf/d, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a research note Thursday.
The low point, reached on Feb. 17, marked a decline of 21% from the average of the prior week, the agency said.
Natural gas production in Texas dropped nearly 45%, falling from 21.3 Bcf/d during the week ended Feb. 13 to a low of 11.8 Bcf/d on Feb. 17, EIA estimated using data from IHS Markit.
Temperatures in Texas during the extraordinary cold snap averaged nearly 30 degrees lower than normal for the time of the year.
“The decline in natural gas production was mostly a result of freeze-offs, which occur when water and other liquids in the raw natural gas stream freeze at the wellhead or in natural gas gathering lines near production activities,” EIA noted.
Unlike natural gas production infrastructure in northern states that is built to withstand frigid conditions, wellheads, gathering lines and processing facilities in Texas are not “weatherized” for prolonged bouts of freezing temperatures. That makes them “susceptible to the effects of extremely cold weather,” researchers said.
In a separate report Thursday, EIA said that, with the frosty temperatures and light production, the industry withdrew 338 Bcf from natural gas storage in the week ended Feb. 19, the second-steepest pull on record.
Spot gas prices soared in response to the sudden supply crunch last week. NGI’s Weekly Spot Gas National Avg. rocketed $16.855 higher week/week to $33.680 as restricted gas flows on dozens of pipelines coincide with surging demand.
As temperatures began to climb on Feb. 18, so too did natural gas production in Texas, EIA said. By Wednesday (Feb. 24), output reached an estimated 20.9 Bcf/d in the state, only 0.3 Bcf/d shy of the average for the week ended Feb. 13.
The agency said U.S. crude production averaged 9.7 million b/d last week, a decrease of 1.1 million b/d from the prior week and down 3.3 million b/d from a year earlier.
Oil refinery inputs averaged 12.2 million b/d during the latest covered week, down 2.6 million b/d from the previous week’s average. Refineries operated at 68.6% of their operable capacity last week, down from 83.1% the prior week, the agency reported.
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