Only the West region posted a record withdrawal. Although the largest withdrawals occurred in the East and Producing regions, which had net withdrawals of 132 Bcf and 99 Bcf, respectively, only the West region posted a record withdrawal. This week’s withdrawal of -54 Bcf in the West was higher than the previous record withdrawal, which was 43 Bcf in January 2007. The previous December record withdrawal was 39 Bcf in December 2009. This week’s withdrawal of 132 Bcf in the East was substantially lower than the previous record, which was 179 Bcf in February 2007. In the East, the December record withdrawal was 142 Bcf, in December 2000. In the Producing region, this week’s withdrawal of 99 Bcf was slightly lower than the previous record of 100 Bcf in January 2010, but it broke the previous December record withdrawal of 75 Bcf from December 2009. Storage capacity, particularly in high deliverability salt facilities located predominately in the Producing region, has grown over time, making larger withdrawals possible.
Cold weather during the storage report week prompted the large withdrawal. Temperatures in the Lower 48 states averaged 29.3 degrees for the week, 9.1 degrees cooler than the 30-year normal temperature and 15.1 degrees cooler than the same period last year. Parts of the Midwest experienced below-freezing weather for the entire week, with temperatures as much as 20 degrees below the seasonal norm. Natural gas production was also down, as many locations experienced well freeze-offs in the first half of the storage week. Storage operators met this elevated heating demand by executing large net withdrawals on behalf of their customers.