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US natural gas in storage below the recent average

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Tanks and Terminals,

As we enter winter, working natural gas in underground storage facilities in the Lower 48 states in the US measured 3618 billion ft3 on 5 November 2021, according to EIA’s ‘Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report’, released on 10 November 2021. The amount of natural gas in storage has been below its previous five-year average since mid-February 2021. Storage levels approached average in late October and early November 2021, the time of year when inventories are typically at their highest and when natural gas begins to be withdrawn as demand rises with colder weather.

Source: US Energy Information Administration, 'Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report'.

The amount of working natural gas in storage in the Lower 48 states reached its lowest point in 2021 at 1760 billion ft3, or 4% below the previous five-year average, on 15 March 2021, following a period of significantly cold weather in late January through mid-February 2021. Less natural gas was in storage than the previous five-year average for every week through the spring and summer because of the low inventory at the beginning of the injection season, relatively high natural gas consumption in the electric power sector, and relatively high volumes of natural gas exports. By mid-September 2021, storage levels were 7% below the five-year average. More recently, eight consecutive weeks of relatively large net injections narrowed the gap with five-year average inventories to 3% as of 5 November 2021.

In EIA’s latest ‘Short-Term Energy Outlook’, less US working natural gas is expected to be in storage than the previous five-year average through the winter, totalling 1486 billion ft3 at the end of March 2022. That amount would be 12% less than the previous five-year average for that time of year. This forecast for inventories is very uncertain because it depends both on natural gas demand during winter 2021, especially for space heating in the residential and commercial sectors, and on supply conditions, as natural gas producers respond to higher natural gas prices. As was seen in February 2021, cold weather can change this inventory level significantly.

Source: US Energy Information Administration, 'Annual Electric Power Industry Report'.

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