(Bloomberg) -- Oil production from the US shale patch is expected to grow at a slower pace next month after a speed bump late last year knocked output off its record level.  

Combined crude production from the seven US shale basins is forecast to rise to 9.72 million barrels a day next month, up 0.2% from February, the US Energy Information Administration said in a report Monday. That’s a deceleration from last year’s average month-over-month growth of about 0.9%. 

Shale explorers are looking to show greater restraint in spending this year and send more profits back to shareholders rather than plunging the cash into increasing drilling. One of the ways they do that is by cutting back on rigs after acquiring a rival, like what Diamondback Energy Inc. said on Monday that it would do after taking over Endeavor Energy Resources LP.

Output from prolific shale fields that stretch from the Bakken in North Dakota to the Eagle Ford in south Texas peaked at 9.84 million barrels in November and was little changed the next month. When all other oil production is included, such as the crude coming from US wells in the Gulf of Mexico, total US output hit a record 13.3 million barrels a day in December.

The unexpected surge in US production last year was among the factors that weighed on crude prices and complicated efforts by OPEC and its allies to support the market with output reductions. The outlook for production from the US and other non-OPEC countries such as Guyana, Brazil and Canada is top of mind for traders this year.

 

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