Working natural gas in storage rose to 3,521 Bcf as of Friday, October 7, according to EIA’s WNGSR (see Storage Figure). Following a net injection of 112 Bcf from the previous week, stocks are now 56 Bcf below last year and 68 Bcf above the 5-year average. The injection was much larger than the 5-year average injection of 72 Bcf and last year’s injection of 90 Bcf.
This was the largest net injection since the week ending June 12, 2009. Coming on the heels of two other weeks with very large injections, this build shows that stocks are growing quickly during a period of mild weather. With production at very high levels, stocks were able to rapidly gain ground in the absence of much power sector demand and before major heating demand begins.
Temperatures during the week ending Thursday, October 6 averaged 67.7 degrees, 1.7 degrees cooler than normal and 0.3 degrees warmer than last year (see Temperature Maps and Data). Regionally, temperatures were mixed and mostly mild with every division averaging more than 54 but less than 70 degrees. All three divisions of the South Census Region as well as the Pacific, Middle Atlantic, and West North Central divisions were cooler than normal, but New England, the East North Central, and the Mountain divisions were warmer. Nationwide, heating degree-days were 11 percent above normal, but cooling degree days were down 35 percent.
Other Market Trends
Winter Fuels Outlook Projects Higher Natural Gas, Propane, and Heating Oil Expenditures this Winter. On October 12 EIA released the Short-Term Energy Outlook and Winter Fuels Outlook, which projects that expenditures for natural gas, propane, and heating oil will increase by 3 percent, 7 percent, and 8 percent, respectively, from last winter. Expenditures for electricity, on the other hand, are expected to fall slightly. Though the winter (October 1, 2011–March 31, 2012) is projected to be about 2 percent warmer than last winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, temperatures will vary widely by region. Among the highlights:
- Heating oil customers (80 percent of which are located in the Northeast) are expected to spend $193 more this winter and pay the highest average winter price on record (but lower than spikes reached in the summer of 2008 when crude oil prices spiked).
- Households heating with natural gas (about one-half of households in the U.S.) are expected to spend about $19 more this winter than last winter. The expenditure increase represents a 1-percent decline in consumption (due to warmer temperatures), more than offset by a 4-percent increase in prices.
- Propane customers will spend about 5 percent more this winter, with increases varying widely by region.
- Customers who use electricity for heating (about 37 percent of households) can expect to spend about $6 less this winter, with consumption declines more than offsetting slight price increases. About 62 percent of households using electricity for heating are located in the South.