Maximum working gas storage capacity was down across all regions from 2016 to 2017, even as design capacity was slightly higher year on year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
The Underground Natural Gas Working Storage Capacity report issued by the EIA on March 30 outlined an overall 1%, or 46 Bcf, reduction in demonstrated peak storage capacity to 4,317 Bcf from November 2016 to November 2017. Capacity was cut across all regions, with the largest decline of 28 Bcf reported in the South Central region.
By contrast, design capacity was up a scant 0.7%, or 34 Bcf, through the period, driven by a 2.9%, or 30 Bcf, increase in design capacity in the East region resulting from expansions to existing facilities. Most other regions saw changes of 1% or less.
Accounting for most of the gains in the East, Columbia Gas Transmission LLC's Weaver/Clinton field in Ohio expanded by 12 Bcf in June 2017. In total, seven facilities in the East expanded by 1 Bcf or more each, the EIA said.
Demonstrated peak storage capacity measures the actual use for supply and demand reported by each of the 383 active natural gas storage facilities in the Lower 48 while Design capacity measures the potential use based on the design of the facility.
The general decline in the demonstrated peak capacity was driven by a 2017 injection season that began in April with fairly high storage levels of working gas but ended in October with inventories near the five-year average, resulting in few facilities reaching demonstrated peaks. Further, while production continued to grow in the Northeast, total U.S. production was essentially flat from 2016 to 2017.
On the demand side, U.S. consumption of natural gas remained essential steady with 2015 levels through 2017, the EIA said. The 2017 injection season saw moderate power demand during milder summer weather and higher natural gas prices for the power sector compared with 2016, while LNG exports out of Sabine Pass in Louisiana, as well as pipeline exports to Mexico, grew.
For the fourth consecutive year, no new storage facilities began operating in 2017. One new storage field at the East Cheyenne facility in Colorado began operations and two small storage fields located in Ohio became inactive during the period.