The Lower 48 states will enter the winter heating season with the most natural gas in storage since 2020, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Natural gas in storage in the Lower 48 United States ended the gas injection season at 3,776 billion cubic feet, according to estimates based on data from the EIA’s Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report.
Although the gas storage injection season traditionally ends on October 31, net injections often occur in November, and during the week ending November 24 working gas storage peaked at 3,836 Bcf, 303 Bcf above the five-year average, the EIA added.
The EIA also noted that there is now 5 percent more natural gas in United States inventories entering the winter heating season than the previous five-year average and 7 percent more than October 31, 2022.
The large volume of gas in storage is partially the result of a mild 2022–2023 heating season, the EIA said. Working natural gas inventories totaled 1,823 Bcf on April 1, 2023, or 19 percent more than the average U.S. April 1 total for the previous five years, the agency said.
Because inventories were relatively full at the start of the summer injection season, storage operators were able to reach their end-of-season targets with smaller gas injections, the EIA said. Net additions to working U.S. natural gas inventories totaled 1,953 Bcf during the injection season, about 5 percent less than the five-year average and 9 percent less than in 2022, according to EIA data.
In the spring and early summer, natural gas inventories rose quickly, exceeding the five-year average as the storage surplus grew from 298 Bcf on March 31 and peaked at 370 Bcf during the week ending June 30, the EIA said. For the next 11 consecutive weeks, net injections were below the five-year average, reaching a low of 163 Bcf during the week ending October 6.
In October, the EIA said that as a result of robust gas production, high inventory levels, and the expectation of a milder winter most households in the United States would spend less on heating this winter than last. Specifically, the agency said it expected wholesale natural gas prices to be 14 percent lower this winter than last winter.
In its early November Short-Term Energy Outlook, the EIA said it was expecting a warmer-than-average winter, with 4 percent fewer heating degree days this winter compared with the prior 10-year average. In its STEO, the EIA also forecast spot prices at the benchmark Henry Hub would average around $3.40 per million British thermal units over the winter, peaking in January at over $3.60/MMBtu.