An Arctic cold blast that swept through the U.S. South in February caused a much bigger loss in oil supply than previously estimated, with output falling to a three-year low, according to U.S. government data.
Drillers cut oil production by almost 1.2 million barrels a day, the biggest decline since May and far more than the 800,000 barrels a day officials had estimated in early April, according to figures released Friday by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Scores of wells were forced to shut after extreme cold triggered power outages across Texas, the nation’s energy capital. The historic wintry blast at one point curtailed about 4 million barrels a day of U.S. crude oil supply, traders and executives said at the time. The low temperatures also froze oil and gas output at the well head, along with pipes that were transporting that supply.
Texas alone contributed about 70% of the monthly loss, while declines in New Mexico accounted for almost 9%, according to the EIA. In North Dakota, output slipped to about a million barrels a day.
U.S. crude output declined to about 9.9 million barrels a day in February from just over 11 million in January. Producers have since managed to restore most of the supply, with weekly production averaging almost 11 million barrels a day.
By Sheela Tobben