Today, the Energy Information Administration released its weekly reports on the status of various liquid fuels in the United States, covering the week that ended September 20. The reports cover natural gas and petroleum, presenting data about the production, storage, and prices of the fuels. Changes in the data can reflect natural variations, seasonal trends, long-term market effects, and current events in regions of the globe where liquid fuels are produced, processed, and sold. This week was highlighted by easing the tension in Syria, where the U.S. once called for military action, upsetting the political climate in the Middle East.
Working natural gas in storage — the volume readily available to the market — increased by 87 billion cubic feet in the week ended September 20 to 3,386 Bcf, according to EIA estimates. This is down by 179 Bcf from the same period last year, but at the upper-end of the five-year historical range. Natural gas futures are still below the $4 to $6 range within which producers can both earn a profit remain and compete with alternative fuels such as coal.
The data show a trend has developed over the past few years. Inventories have been on the rise as domestic production increases, largely thanks to advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology. These advances have contributed to a revolution in energy production in the U.S. and producers are rapidly helping make the dream of energy independence come true. Domestic production supplied the U.S. with 84 percent of its total energy needs in 2012, the highest level since 1991. The EIA estimates that the U.S. could become a net exporter of natural gas as early as 2020, assuming regulatory hurdles can be overcome.