U.S. Energy Information Administration - EIA - Independent Statistics and Analysis
Short-Term Energy Outlook
Working natural gas inventories were 3,401 billion cubic feet (Bcf) as of August 26, which is 8% higher than the same time last year. Injections during the refill season have been below the five-year (2011-15) average levels in most weeks because of the high use of natural gas for electricity generation. However, because warm weather last winter left inventories at record-high levels going into the injection season, current natural gas stock levels remain substantially higher than year-ago and five-year-average levels.
Natural Gas Consumption
EIA's forecast of total natural gas consumption averages 76.4 Bcf/d in 2016 and 77.1 Bcf/d in 2017, compared with 75.2 Bcf/d in 2015. In 2016, increases in total natural gas consumption are mainly because of electric power sector use of natural gas, which is expected to increase by 5.4%. Forecast natural gas use in the electric power sector declines by 2.3% in 2017, as rising natural gas prices contribute to increasing coal use for electricity generation. Forecast industrial sector consumption of natural gas increases by 2.3% in 2016 and by 1.0% in 2017, as new fertilizer and chemical projects come online.
Natural Gas Production and Trade
EIA's natural gas marketed production in June, the month of the most recent survey data, averaged 77.5 Bcf/d, which is down 2.7 Bcf/d from the record-high daily average production in February 2016. However, more recent preliminary daily data from third-party sources indicate production increased in July and August. EIA forecasts production increases in the second half of 2016 and through 2017 in response to forecast increases in prices and in liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports. Forecast natural gas production rises by 0.6% in 2016 and by 3.0% in 2017.
Natural gas pipeline exports to Mexico have risen in 2016. EIA expects that growth to continue because of growing demand from Mexico's electric power sector and because of flat natural gas production in Mexico. Gross pipeline exports are expected to increase by 0.7 Bcf/d in 2016 to an average of 5.6 Bcf/d before declining slightly in 2017.
EIA projects that LNG gross exports will rise to an average of 0.5 Bcf/d in 2016, with the startup of Cheniere's Sabine Pass LNG liquefaction plant in Louisiana, which sent out its first cargo in February 2016. Sabine's second train is currently in the commissioning process. EIA projects that gross LNG exports will average 1.5 Bcf/d in 2017, as Sabine Pass ramps up capacity.
With expected growth in gross exports, net imports of natural gas decline from 2.6 Bcf/d in 2015 to 0.2 Bcf/d in 2017. The United States is expected to become a net exporter of natural gas beginning in the second quarter of 2017.
Natural Gas Inventories
Natural gas inventories in March ended at 2,496 Bcf, the highest end-of-withdrawal-season level on record. As of August 26, natural gas inventories were at 3,401 Bcf. Despite lower-than-average storage injections, EIA forecasts natural gas inventories to be 4,042 Bcf at the end of October 2016, which would be a record-high level for that time of year.
Natural Gas Prices
The Henry Hub natural gas spot price averaged $2.82/million British thermal units (MMBtu) in August, unchanged from the July average. A hot summer and production declines have put some upward pressure on natural gas prices, although prices remain low enough to support significant natural gas-fired generation. EIA expects natural gas prices to gradually rise through the forecast period. Forecast Henry Hub prices average $2.42/MMBtu in 2016 and $2.87/MMBtu in 2017.
Natural gas futures contracts for December 2016 delivery that were traded during the five-day period ending September 1 averaged $3.18/MMBtu. Current options and futures prices indicate that market participants place the lower and upper bounds for the 95% confidence interval for December 2016 contracts at $2.25/MMBtu and $4.51/MMBtu, respectively. In early September 2015, the natural gas futures contracts for December 2015 delivery averaged $2.91/MMBtu, and the corresponding lower and upper limits of the 95% confidence interval were $2.08/MMBtu and $4.06/MMBtu.
|U.S. Natural Gas Summary|
|2014||2015||2016 projected||2017 projected|
|Prices||(dollars per thousand cubic feet)|
|Henry Hub Spot||4.52||2.71||2.50||2.95|
|Supply||(billion cubic feet per day)|
|Dry Gas Production||70.49||74.06||74.06||76.14|
|Consumption||(billion cubic feet per day)|
|Electric Power Sector||22.32||26.50||27.92||27.28|
|Primary Assumptions||(percent change from previous year)|
|Heating Degree Days||1.9||-10.3||-2.3||4.1|
|Cooling Degree Days||-0.7||14.8||0.0||-5.7|
|Natural-gas-weighted Industrial Production||-0.8||1.3||0.7||2.4|
Interactive Data Viewers
|Table SF02. Average Summer Residential Electricity Usage|
|Table SF01. U.S. Motor Gasoline Summer Outlook|
|Table 1. U.S. Energy Markets Summary|
|Table 2. Energy Prices|
|Table 5a. U.S. Natural Gas Supply, Consumption, and Inventories|
|Table 5b. U.S. Regional Natural Gas Prices|
|Table 8. U.S. Renewable Energy Consumption|
|Table 9a. U.S. Macroeconomic Indicators and CO2 Emissions|
|Table 9b. U.S. Regional Macroeconomic Data|
|Table 9c. U.S. Regional Weather Data|
|Today In Energy||Daily|
|Natural Gas Weekly Update||Weekly|
|Peak Underground Working Storage Capacity||Annual|
|2016 Summer Fuels Outlook Slideshow||Apr-2016|
|2015-2016 Winter Fuels Outlook Slideshow||Oct-2015|
|2015 Summer Fuels Outlook Slideshow||Apr-2015|
|2014-2015 Winter Fuels Outlook Slideshow||Oct-2014|
|Weather Sensitivity in Natural Gas Markets||Oct-2014|
|2014 Outlook for Gulf of Mexico Hurricane-Related Production Outages||Jun-2014|
|2014 Summer Fuels Outlook Slideshow||Apr-2014|
|Energy-weighted industrial production indices||Mar-2014|
|Constraints in New England likely to affect regional energy prices this winter||Jan-2013|
|Change in STEO Regional and U.S. Degree Day Calculations||Sep-2012|
|2012 Outlook for Hurricane-Related Production Outages in the Gulf of Mexico||Jun-2012|
|Changes in Natural Gas Monthly Consumption Data Collection and the Short-Term Energy Outlook||Dec-2010|
|Trends in U.S. Residential Natural Gas Consumption||23-Jun-2010|
|Probabilities of Possible Future Prices||Apr-2010|
|Energy Price Volatility and Forecast Uncertainty||Oct-2009|
|The Implications of Lower Natural Gas Prices for Electric Generators in the Southeast||May-2009|