During the warmest winter on record, U.S. natural gas production held steady at historic highs. As a result, inventories of natural gas have risen to an all-time high at winter’s end, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The agency said there was 2,478 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas in storage at the end of March, a record high for that period. That exceeds the previous record of 2,473 Bcf set it March 2012.
On Nov. 20, at the beginning of the winter heating season, gas supplies were already at a record high of 4,009 Bcf. Altogether, the U.S. withdrew just 1,475 Bcf of gas from storage. That’s well below the average withdrawal of 2,176 Bcf in the previous five winters, EIA said.
EIA said it “expects the summer build in working natural gas inventories will total about 1,600 Bcf. The forecast build puts inventories at the end of October at a record high.”
Summer storage injections in 2016 could be similar to injections in the summer of 2012, and may lead to a sharp spike in natural gas consumption by power generators, EIA said. “In 2015, natural gas use by electric power generators broke the 2012 record, and STEO (the Short Term Energy Outlook) projects another record will be set for 2016.”
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Chart courtesy EIA