Total demand for the report week was up. According to BENTEK Energy Services LLC (Bentek) estimates, overall natural gas consumption for the nation increased by 2.1 percent. The residential/commercial sector, the biggest gas-consuming sector during the winter, consumed 5.1 percent more gas for the report period. The Midwest and Northeast experienced colder weather than last week, pushing residential/commercial demand higher. Residential/commercial volumes are 101 percent higher than this week last year due to last year’s short heating season. Industrial consumption of natural gas increased by 1.1 percent for the report week, while natural gas consumption for power generation was down on average, falling by 2.2 percent. Likely because of the cold, Northeast and Midwest states consumed 4.8 percent and 16.9 percent more gas for electric generation, respectively. In contrast to the North, much of the South, particularly the Southwest, experienced warmer weather for the report week. Gas consumption for electric generation was down in the Southeast by 3.6 percent, Midcontinent by 20.2 percent, Southwest by 8.6 percent, and Pacific Northwest by 23.4 percent. The net effect was an overall decrease in gas burned for electric generation.
Total supply for the report week was flat. Bentek estimates that supply was unchanged for the report period. U.S. gross and dry natural gas production were up slightly, rising by 0.1 percent over last week. Dry production for the week is 0.7 percent above last year’s levels. A net decrease in Canadian imports of 1.1 percent offset the increase in production. Driving the decrease in Canadian imports was a 5.7 percent drop in imports to the West likely due to warm weather in the Southwest for the report period. LNG imports decreased by 14.1 percent, although they are currently a negligible contributor to U.S. supply.
Working natural gas in storage decreased to 1,876 Bcf as of Friday, March 15, according to EIA's WNGSR. This represents an implied net withdrawal of 62 Bcf from the previous week. This week's net withdrawal was 36 Bcf larger than the 5-year average net withdrawal of 26 Bcf, and 62 Bcf larger than last year's average net withdrawal of zero. Inventories are currently 502 Bcf (21.1 percent) less than last year at this time and 162 Bcf (9.54 percent) greater than the 5-year average of 1,714 Bcf.
Two of the three storage regions posted declines this week. Inventories in the East and Producing regions decreased by 47 Bcf (the 5-year average net withdrawal is 30 Bcf) and 15 Bcf (compared with the 5-year average net injection of 7 Bcf), respectively. Inventories in the West region remain unchanged (compared with the 5-year average net withdrawal of 2 Bcf). In the Producing region, working natural gas inventories increased 5 Bcf (2.9 percent) in salt cavern facilities and decreased 20 Bcf (3.4 percent) in nonsalt cavern facilities.