Pipeline Shutdown Adds to Record Decline in U.S. Natural Gas Output

(Reuters) — U.S. natural gas production was on track to drop by a record amount on Tuesday to its lowest since September 2018 due in part to unplanned work on TC Energy Corp’s Mountaineer Xpress pipeline in West Virginia, according to Refinitiv data. 

Photo: TC Energy

Preliminary pipeline flow data showed U.S. output was expected to drop by 4.2 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) to 84.6 bcfd on Tuesday.

If correct, that would be the biggest daily decline on record, according to Refinitiv data going back to 2011. Traders, however, noted pipeline flows are measured several times a day and the data is subject to change.

Analysts said work on the 2.6-bcfd Mountaineer Xpress was expected to reduce output in West Virginia by around 2.0 bcfd, so the rest of the nation’s production declines were scattered among several other states and not necessarily related to Mountaineer.

TC Energy’s Columbia Gas Transmission (TCO) unit, which operates the Mountaineer pipe, said on its website that it declared a force majeure effective for the evening cycle on Tuesday, July 7, due to unplanned maintenance.

That work requires a pressure reduction south of the Mount Olive compressor station.

The company did not say when the pipe would return to full service. Officials at TC Energy were not immediately available for comment.

Despite the output decline on Tuesday, Refinitiv said production in the Lower 48 U.S. states has averaged 88.1 bcfd so far in July.

That is up from a 20-month low of 87.0 bcfd in June after energy firms shut wells following the collapse in energy prices due to coronavirus demand destruction.

Monthly output peaked at 95.4 bcfd in November.

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