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U.S. 2012 Gas Output Growth Slowest in 3 Years, EIA Data Show

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Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. natural gas production in December fell for the first time in fourth months, capping the slowest annual growth rate in three years, a government report today showed.

Total U.S. output, including Alaska, declined 0.7 percent to 82.57 billion cubic feet a day in December from a revised 83.19 billion the previous month, the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration said today in the monthly EIA-914 report. Production was up 0.6 percent from December 2011, the smallest annual gain since 2009.

Output in the lower 48 states fell 1.1 percent to a four-month low 72.7 billion cubic feet a day from a revised 73.53 billion in November, November production was an all-time high. Output in the contiguous states was up 0.9 percent in December from a year earlier, also the slowest growth rate since 2009.

Operators in Louisiana, Texas and the Gulf of Mexico reported shut wells while New Mexico production declined mainly because of cold weather, the EIA said.

Louisiana output fell 3.1 percent to 7.47 billion cubic feet a day in December and supplies in Texas, the biggest producing state, dropped 0.9 percent to 21.92 billion cubic feet a day. Daily output in the Gulf of Mexico declined by 2.9 percent to 4.02 billion cubic feet.

Supplies from the “other states” category, which includes the Marcellus shale deposit in the Northeast, slid 0.3 percent to 24.19 billion cubic feet a day from a revised 24.26 billion in November.

Oklahoma Decline

Oklahoma output fell 0.9 percent to 5.72 billion a day while production in Wyoming dropped 0.3 percent to 5.92 billion.

Natural gas futures for April delivery rose 5.3 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $3.487 per million British thermal units at 1:06 p.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up 38 percent from a year ago. Trading was 2 percent higher than the 100-day average for the time of day.

The EIA-914 report covers gas gross withdrawals, which include gas used for repressuring, quantities vented and flared, and non-hydrocarbon gas removed in treating or processing operations.

To contact the reporter on this story: Naureen S. Malik in New York at Nmalik28@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net.

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