EIA's Outlook for Natural Gas

Extracting natural gas is a year around activity, but consumption varies seasonally. To provision for winter demand, excess summer capacity has been diverted to storage in years past. Now, with increasing natural gas demand in the summer for generating electricity to meet peak air-conditioning loads, we are sacrificing the capacity that had been used to accumulate storage reserves to meet winter demand. From the U.S. Energy Information Agency:

... [E]ven if only modest withdrawals are required this month, we are still likely to end the heating season with the total level of gas in storage below the previous low recorded by EIA. In our view, only a spectacular performance from the U.S. and Canadian gas industry in terms of increased production or an extremely mild summer this year would generate much in the way of additional reductions in natural gas prices beyond what has already happened since mid winter. As we currently expect working gas to reach 689 billion cubic feet at end-March, seasonal injections of 2,310 billion cubic feet would be required from April through October to reach 3 trillion cubic feet (the approximate average end-October level between 1995 and 1999) before the next heating season. That kind of build would be about 500 billion cubic feet (25 percent) above average (1995-1999). Consequently we expect the industry to fall well short. Average monthly gas spot prices below $4 per thousand cubic feet between now and next winter are possible but do not seem very likely under these circumstances. [EIA Short-Term Energy Outlook, March 2001]

Note: Source documents can be accessed by clicking on the images which follow.

Working Gas -- Declining year by year, as seen three different ways

US Natural Gas: Working Gas in Storage January 01

Another view: Working Gas in Storage by Month

Extraction -- More drilling but not keeping up

Imports -- If there is gas in domestic fields, why are we importing? ... especially dangerous, inefficient, expensive LNG?

US Natural Gas Consumption, Production, and Imports, 1970-2020 (tcf)

Net imports expanded to 16% of U.S. consumption, in 1999 with 95% or 3.4 Tcf coming from Canada

U.S. net exports to Mexico reached their highest level in 5 years at 39 Bcf in 1999

The United States imported LNG from Trinidad and Tobago, Qatar, and Malaysia for the first time.

Consumption by Sector -- Electricity generation on the increase, yet existing needs can't be met.

US Natural Gas Consumption by sector, 1990-2020 (tcf) [date]

.. A longer term view, Consumption by sector between 1949 and 1999

temperature affects the residential sector in winter
The Industry -- A Summary, Gas Flow, Prices

Natural Gas Flow, 1999