Warm weather leads to rare rise in natural gas storage levels

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 37 views 

Warmer U.S. weather led to the first recorded net injection of natural gas in February, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As of Feb. 24, the amount of natural gas in storage in the lower 48 states rose 7 billion cubic feet, to 2.36 trillion cubic feet. “Natural gas injections in the South Central region offset unseasonably low withdrawals in other regions,” the EIA shows. Natural gas stored in the region rose by 21 billion cubic feet, including non-salt and salt facilities.

While some have taken place in March, net injections of natural gas into storage don’t usually happen until April. Previously, the earliest net injection happened for the week ending March 16, 2012. Based on data between 2010 and 2016, February has seen net withdrawals of natural gas between 243 billion cubic feet and 48 billion cubic feet. By the end of March, the EIA expects storage levels will fall to 2.12 trillion cubic feet, which is about 335 billion cubic feet higher than the previous five-year average.

“Weekly changes in natural gas storage reflect changes in natural gas consumption, production, and, to a lesser extent, trade,” according to the EIA. “Natural gas consumption is particularly sensitive to fluctuations in weather.”

U.S. temperatures have been higher than normal for several weeks this winter. For the week ending Feb. 25, the heating degree days index — which tracks heating needs based on “deviations relative to a base temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit” and is higher when it’s colder — was 98 for the United States. An index this low usually takes place in mid-April. Based on an average weather data between 1971 and 2000, the index would normally be 172 for the week ending Feb. 25.

“Temperatures were especially warm in the Northeast and Midwest, where natural gas heating is common,” according to the EIA.