A winter of prolonged, widespread, bitter cold weather throughout much of the United States led to a record-breaking natural gas withdrawal season in 2014, bringing inventories of natural gas to a 11-year low. EIA’s Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) forecasts a robust injection season (April-October) with nearly 2,500 billion cubic feet (Bcf) added to storage as operators seek to rebuild inventory levels.
The projected inventory level at the end of the current withdrawal season at the end of March results from a record winter withdrawal of 2,851 Bcf. Demand driven by cold weather has played a major role in driving this winter’s high withdrawals. From November 1, 2013 through March 10, 2014, U.S. consumption of natural gas averaged 91.2 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d), an increase of 10% over the same days last winter and 13% over the average for these days during the past five winters. Residential/commercial consumption increased by 17% over the same days in the 2012-13 winter season, while population-weighted heating degree days (indicating cold weather) increased by 16%, according to data from Bentek Energy LLC.