Natural gas production in the US plunged by almost 45% during Texas freeze

Natural gas production in Texas collapsed by 45 per cent during the cold snap last week, primarily due to freeze-offs, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, citing estimates from IHS Markit.

Natural gas production in Texas dropped to a daily low of 11.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) on February 17, down by nearly 45 percent compared to 21.3 Bcf/d during the week ending February 13, the estimates showed.

Total US dry natural gas production during the freeze in Texas and much of the central part of the United States declined by 21 percent, to as low as 69.7 Bcf/d mid-February.

The temperatures in Texas averaged nearly 30 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 1.11 degree Celsius) lower than normal during mid-February, which led to freeze-offs in the natural gas stream at the wellheads or gathering lines near production activities.

The infrastructure in Texas is more susceptible to extreme cold snaps, unlike the relatively winterised natural gas production infrastructure in the northern parts of the United States, the EIA said.

The Texas Freeze also knocked out as much as 4 million bpd of the total US crude oil production, IHS Markit said last week, as well as almost 6 million bpd of refining capacity, including 5.2 million bpd of the capacity in the Gulf Coast and 730,000 bpd of refining capacity in the Midwest.

Shale producers in Texas expect a slow recovery in production as frozen pipelines and well equipment reduced oil production. According to analysts, some of the lost production may never return because it would be too expensive to restart some smaller wells. The restart of refineries is also a mixed bag—some have slowly restarted units with power back up, but others could take until April to restart refining operations.

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