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Today in Energy

April 18, 2011

Natural gas storage withdrawal season review

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report
Note: Map of regions.

The natural gas industry considers two seasons in storage operation–the withdrawal season, from November 1 through March 31; and the injection season, from April 1 through October 31. Working natural gas inventories as of March 31 were 1,585 billion cubic feet (Bcf), following the third strongest withdrawal season in the last 15 years.

The West Region withdrew nearly 300 Bcf of gas, the largest net withdrawal in that region since the start of EIA's data series in 1995. Although total heating degree days for the withdrawal season in that region were close to normal (averaging for the season less than 2% below normal), there were 8 weeks of strong withdrawals when heating degree days were nearly 20% greater than normal. Largely influenced by cold weather, net withdrawals in the East Region, which has over 50% of the national total of working gas in storage at the start of the withdrawal season, were also strong–the second highest in 15 years.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

Despite the robust withdrawal season, end-of-season inventories are still strong. Inventories in the Producing Region are at their highest level since the data series began. Both the East Region and West Region's inventory levels are above average for this time of year. This is due to the record-high inventory levels at the start of the withdrawal season, as well as additional storage capacity that has been incrementally added over the years. EIA's April 2011 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO) projects that storage operators will inject 3,908 Bcf into storage during the 2011 injection season as a result of continuing strong production levels. This level of injections will place stocks at the end of the 2011 injection season 61 Bcf above last year's record inventories.