December was a banner month for U.S. natural gas production, hitting a record high of 2.63 Tcf and pushing the 2013 year-end total to a record 30.17 Tcf, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Total U.S. gas production in 2013 surpassed by 2.1% the 2012 total of 29.54 Tcf, EIA said in its latest Natural Gas Monthly report.

U.S. natural gas production, which had remained relatively stagnant for several years (between 23.46 Tcf and 24.66 Tcf from 2000-2007), began a steep acceleration coinciding with the blooming of the nation’s shale plays, reaching 25.64 Tcf in 2008, 26.06 Tcf in 2009, 26.82 Tcf in 2010 and 28.48 Tcf in 2011, according to EIA data (see Daily GPI, Feb. 26).

The December production total was a 4% increase compared with 2.52 Tcf in December 2012.

Production from the Other States category, which includes Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, was a record 898.1 Bcf in December, a 24.5% increase from 721.1 Bcf in November 2012, according to EIA data. The Other States category produced 9.52 Tcf in 2013, an impressive increase from 8.23 Tcf in 2013.

Production increases compared with December 2012 were also reported for Alaska (308.0 Bcf in December 2013, compared with 304.5 Bcf in the year ago period), New Mexico (106.2 Bcf, compared with 103.9 Bcf) and Oklahoma (182.4 Bcf, compared with 176.1 Bcf).

But even with the flowery national and Other States numbers, it wasn’t all good news in December. Production out of Wyoming was flat compared to December 2012 at 169.6 Bcf, and three categories saw production decreases: Louisiana (174.5 Bcf, compared with 230.9 Bcf), Texas (685.0 Bcf, compared with 689.6 Bcf) and Federal Offshore Gulf of Mexico (103.2 Bcf, compared with 128.2 Bcf). Widespread freeze-offs in Texas were responsible for much of the decrease in that state (see related story).

Total marketed production (wet) in December was 2.21 Tcf, compared with 2.12 Tcf in December 2012, EIA said. Dry gas production was 2.09 Tcf, compared with 2.05 Tcf in December 2012.

EIA reported 156 Bcf of net natural gas imports in December, up from 94 Bcf in December 2012.

Domestic consumption of natural gas was on the rise in December, reaching 2.91 Tcf, compared with 2.51 Tcf in December 2012, EIA said.

The first pangs of what has turned out to be a harsh winter were evident in net storage withdrawals, which surged to 714 Bcf in December, compared with 392 Bcf in December 2012.

In a separate report, EIA said underground natural gas storage capacity in the Lower 48 states grew 2% in 2013, due in large part to storage gains through salt domes in the Producing region and depleted wells in the West (see related story).