* Gross gas output in February at 1.8 percent above year ago
* “Other states” see 2.1 percent monthly volume increase
NEW YORK, April 30 (Reuters) - Gross natural gas production in the lower 48 U.S. states in February climbed 1.3 percent from upwardly revised January output, the first monthly gain in three months, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed on Tuesday.
Lower 48 “wet” gas output in February totaled 73.22 billion cubic feet per day, up from revised January output of 72.30 bcfd, the EIA said in its Monthly Natural Gas Gross Production Report.
Lower 48 refers to gas production in the United States excluding Alaska and Hawaii.
The EIA’s previous estimate for January was 72.10 bcfd.
Monthly output in February rebounded to about 1.27 bcfd, or 1.8 percent, above the same month last year after slipping below year-ago levels in January for the first time since February 2010, likely due to well freeze-offs from the cold.
Excess production relative to year-ago has been narrowing since peaking at nearly 7 bcfd early last year. Some traders see that as a possible sign that the steep drop in gas-directed drilling was finally slowing overall output.
The “Other States” category saw the largest monthly volume increase of 0.52 bcf per day, or 2.1 percent, as new wells were brought on line in the Marcellus and Bakken shale plays.
New wells in the Eagle Ford shale lifted production in Texas by 0.3 bcfd, or 1.4 percent.
The Gulf of Mexico reported a 2 percent decline in output as repairs and well maintenance required shut-ins, EIA said.
Gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange, which were down about 2 cents at $4.372 per mmBtu just before the EIA data was released at about noon EDT (1600 GMT), fell another 5 cents after the report.
Gross gas output posted a record high of 73.78 bcf per day in November and is still hovering not far below that level despite that the Baker Hughes gas-directed rig count has slid to a 14-year low.
Drilling for natural gas has mostly been in decline for the past 18 months, but production so far has not slowed much, if at all, from the record high hit last year.
The associated dry gas produced from more-profitable shale oil and shale gas liquids wells has kept gas flowing at or near a record pace.
The EIA recently estimated that marketed gas output in 2013 will hit a record high for the third straight year.
Gross withdrawals, according to EIA, are converted to marketed natural gas production by subtracting gas used for repressuring, quantities vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed in treating or processing operations.