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US natural gas inventories remain lower than 2016, but higher than 5-year average

graph of weekly natural gas inventories and 2017 storage levels comparisons, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report inventories

For most of summer, natural gas production was relatively flat or declining

Working natural gas inventory levels in the Lower 48 states since April have been lower than they were in 2016, but they are still higher than the previous five-year average (2012-2016), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

For the week ending Sept. 22, natural gas storage levels were 127 billion cubic feet (Bcf) lower than at the same time last year but 41 Bcf higher than the previous five-year average.

Natural gas storage levels typically decrease during the winter heating season (November through March) and increase during the injection season (April through Oct.).

Natural gas inventories were relatively high going into the 2017 injection season because warmer-than-normal winter temperatures reduced last winter’s demand for heating in homes and buildings.

This resulted in lower-than-normal natural gas withdrawals from storage this past winter and led to the first-ever net injection in the month of Feb.

During the summer of 2017, the rate of natural gas storage injections largely followed the same pattern as in 2016, but for different reasons.

The summer of 2016 followed a historically warm winter, so natural gas storage levels began the season at record-high levels for that time of year.

Natural gas demand in the power sector also reached record levels, and less gas was injected into storage.

In the summer of 2017, power sector demand for natural gas was lower than the previous summer, but other factors have also changed. More natural gas is being exported by pipeline and ship.

For most of the summer, natural gas production was relatively flat or declining, but more recently production has increased substantially.

In Sept., storage injections have been relatively high, largely because of increased production, milder weather, and lower natural gas demand from the electric power sector following power outages caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook projects natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 states to reach 3,755 Bcf by the end of Oct. 2017, about 48 Bcf lower than the previous five-year average and 222 Bcf lower than at the end of Oct. 2016, when inventories reached 3,977 Bcf.

graph of seasonal changes in natural gas inventories, as explained in the article text

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Natural Gas Monthly, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report, September 2017 Short-Term Energy Outlook

 

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