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Natural Gas Year-in-Review


Storage Inventories

U.S. inventories of working natural gas in storage reached new records in 2011. While the natural gas storage injection season traditionally ends on October 31, injections continued into November. EIA's Weekly Natural Storage Report posted a new record inventory level of 3,852 Bcf for the week ending November 18, 2011, and remained at 3,843 Bcf at the end of November, the second-highest monthly level on record, after 3,851 recorded in October 2010.9 Much of the injection activity came near the end of the injection season, coinciding with the continued high production levels through the end of the summer cooling season. Storage inventories lagged behind both the 5-year (2006-2010) average and the previous year's levels until autumn. A warmer-than-normal start to the winter heating season, as well as abundant production, kept levels high through the rest of 2011 (Figure 10).

Figure 10. Graph of recent working natural gas storage inventories (billion cubic feet)figure data

Inventories in the Producing Region, which includes Texas and the rest of the West South Central Census region, posted net declines for five consecutive weeks in July and August, to supply natural gas for power generation for air-conditioning load during the extreme heat.10 Although net withdrawals are not uncommon in the middle of summer in the Producing Region, five consecutive weeks of withdrawals was unprecedented until recent years.11 Despite the summer withdrawals, the Producing Region hit record-high levels at the end of the injection season, and was the biggest contributor to the new inventory record. Additionally, the majority of increases in both demonstrated peak working gas capacity and design capacity occurred in the Producing Region.12 According to an annual EIA report, as of April 2011, demonstrated peak working gas capacity in the United States rose to 4,103 Bcf, an increase of 54 Bcf from the previous year, with most of the increase occurring in the Producing Region.


9 EIA reports monthly storage values from Form-191, a census of all storage facilities. This is different from the Weekly Natural Storage Report, which, released once a week, provides an estimate of total working gas inventories based off a survey of selected storage fields in the country. More information is available here:

10Storage inventories are reported by three different regions, the Producing Region (including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and other neighboring states); the East Region, including the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest; and the West Region, including the West Coast, Rocky Mountain areas, and parts of the Upper Midwest. A complete map of the regions is available here:

11In 2010, the Producing Region also withdrew natural gas for five straight weeks in the summer.

12'Demonstrated peak working gas capacity' is the sum of the highest storage inventory level of working gas observed in each facility over the prior 5-year period as reported by the operator on the Form EIA- 191M, "Monthly Underground Gas Storage Report."