Natural gas withdrawals from storage facilities and fields in the United States was pushed to a new record due to the cold weather that hit the eastern region of the country.
According to the data provided by the Energy Administration Administration (EIA), net withdrawals from natural gas storage totaled 359 billion cubic feet for the week ending January 5, 2018, beating the previous record of 288 Bcf set four years ago.
Near the end of December 2017 and continuing into January, temperatures in the Lower 48 states, especially in the eastern half of the country, were significantly lower than normal resulting in high natural gas demand.
Consumption of natural gas in the residential and commercial sectors reached 452 Bcf during the week ending January 5, compared with 348 Bcf during the previous week, according to estimates from PointLogic Energy.
PointLogic Energy estimated that total weekly natural gas consumption in the Lower 48 states increased by 150 Bcf, reaching 961 Bcf for the week ending January 5, with additional 29 Bcf and 21 Bcf exported via pipeline or as LNG, respectively.
Natural gas production was also impacted by the cold weather as it led to freeze-offs in the Appalachian and Permian basins.
Pipeline imports from Canada and LNG imports increased during this period, partially offsetting some of the production declines, while withdrawals of natural gas from storage played a key role in meeting natural gas demand and limiting some market participants’ exposure to spikes in natural gas spot prices, EIA said.
On a regional basis, the largest decline in natural gas storage was in the South Central region, where inventories fell by 153 Bcf. About half of that region’s decline was in South Central’s salt fields, which fell by 78 Bcf, or 26 percent of the previous week’s level. Salt fields are able to cycle gas much more rapidly than other storage types such as depleted fields or aquifers.
Working natural gas storage levels now total 2,767 Bcf in the Lower 48 states. If withdrawals from storage match the five-year (2013–17) average for the remainder of the heating season, which typically runs through the end of March, working gas stocks are expected to reach 1,310 Bcf, much lower than the previous five-year average level of 1,697 Bcf for the end of the heating season.