Texas Cold Snap Arrives as Industry Says NatGas Infrastructure is Ready

(Reuters) — Temperatures in Texas plunged on Thursday, a day after the state's natural gas regulator said the sector made "significant progress" winterizing facilities to supply fuel during extreme weather that last year caused widespread blackouts.

To avoid a repeat of last February's energy emergencies after power plants and gas pipes froze, state agencies have imposed several weatherization and other rules to ensure that power and gas supplies keep flowing on the coldest days.

High temperatures in Midland in the Permian will only reach 34 degrees Fahrenheit (1.1 Celsius) on Thursday, the coldest day of this winter so far, before rising to 49 on Friday, according to AccuWeather forecasts. That compares with a normal high of 61 F at this time of year.

That cold snap in West Texas and across much of the rest of the country put U.S. gas production on track to drop to its lowest since September due to freezing wells in Texas and other producing basins, according to preliminary data from Refinitiv.

The Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), which oversees the state's gas industry, said in a release on Wednesday that about 98% of the facilities its inspectors visited since the end of last summer were already winterized.

The agency said "It’s very important to understand that daily gas production can fluctuate from hour to hour due to a variety of reasons," including extreme weather, but noted that most gas supplies remain available most of the time.

“Based on what our inspectors have observed, gas producers and pipeline operators have taken necessary actions to ensure gas will continue to flow this winter to people’s homes and power plants,” said Ted Wooten, RRC Director of Critical Infrastructure.

RRC inspectors visited over 3,800 gas facilities, including nearly 22,000 oil and gas wells and more than 350 pipelines.

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