The Energy Information Administration (or, EIA) estimates that working natural gas in storage fell 157 billion cubic feet (or, Bcf) to total 2,817 Bcf for the week ending January 3. The report on weekly natural gas storage takes into account the working amount available underground in the lower 48 states. Currently, the stocks are 528 Bcf below last year’s levels, and 315 Bcf under the five-year average of 3,132 Bcf.
The decreases represent a 15.8 percent year-over-year difference, and a 10.1 percent gap in regards to historical averages. The largest decline was in the East where storage fell by 98 Bcf. This brought supplies down 239 Bcf below the 5-year average for the region. The Producing region was below the five-year average as well, by 40 Bcf.
The EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook, released Tuesday, stated that cold December weather meant there was an unusually high demand on natural gas. The analysis only goes through December 13, but in a forward looking statement, the EIA said in 2013, it “expects that total natural gas consumption to average a record high 71.2 billion cubic feet per day.”
In 2014, the EIA forecasts that natural gas consumption will fall by 2.2 percent “because of the forecast 4.6 percent decline in heating degree days and lower natural gas use by the electric power sector.” It will not be a lasting trend, because in 2015, the EIA expects an increase due to “growth in use by the industrial and electric power sectors.”
Production during 2014 and 2015 will pick up as well. In 2014, an average growth rate of 2.1 percent has been predicted; for 2015, 1.3 percent is the expected rate. The EIA stated that the rise in domestic production over the past several years has meant fewer pipeline imports from Canada, and a surge in exports to Mexico. It is thought this will continue through 2015.
Also on Tuesday, the EIA reported October’s natural gas production data. In the lower 48 states, production increased 0.9 percent or 0.65 billion cubic feet per day. During October, a gas plant which had not been operating in Wyoming returned, accounting for an 8 percent increase in production for the state.