U.S. natural gas production reached record levels last year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, an increase that substantially boosted exports even as Texas, the largest gas-producing state, lost some of its momentum.

Gross withdrawals reached 90.9 billion cubic feet per day in 2017, the agency's highest volume on record. Marketed natural gas production, which does not include gas vented, flared, used for re-pressuring or removed during processing, also reached record levels.

Louisiana's gross withdrawals increased from 4.8 billion cubic feet per day to to 5.8 billion cubic feet per day, marking the largest annual gain of any state. And the Appalachian region, which includes the Marcellus and Utica shale fields in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania, also saw substantial volume growth.

Texas, however, saw production volume decline from 22.2 billion cubic feet per day in 2016 to 21.7 billion cubic feet per day last year. But the state remained the nation's top producer, outpacing Pennsylvania's production by about 7 billion cubic feet per day.

Nationally, gross withdrawals increased for five consecutive months starting in July and reached a record monthly high of 96.7 billion cubic feet per day in December, the Energy Department reported. Marketed natural gas production set an annual record at 78.9 billion cubic feet per day.

Natural gas exports increased 36 percent amid the surge in production, making the nation a net natural gas exporter for the first time in nearly 60 years.

By Katherine Blunt