The onset of colder weather across the U.S. led natural gas demand significantly higher in the week ended Dec. 14 but without a commensurate increase in supply, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's latest Natural Gas Weekly Update released Dec. 15.
The report showed natural gas demand continued to rise significantly with total U.S. consumption up 10% compared with the previous report week. Power burn climbed by 8% week over week and consumption in the residential and commercial sectors increased by 17%. Industrial-sector consumption remained flat while natural gas exports to Mexico decreased 6%.
At the same time, supply was essentially flat. The average total supply of natural gas rose by 1% compared with the previous week as dry natural gas production remained flat week over week. Average net imports from Canada increased by 10% from last week "likely in response to cold winter weather," the EIA said.
On the storage side, the agency said that the 147-Bcf natural gas storage withdrawal reported for the week ended Dec. 9 was the largest December net withdrawal since 2013. Withdrawals from storage topped the five-year average in every region of the Lower 48, the total net withdrawal from storage compared with the five-year average net withdrawal of 79 Bcf and last year's net withdrawals of 46 Bcf during the same week.
"This reporting period is the first time since 2013 that withdrawals from working natural gas topped 100 Bcf in December," the EIA said. "This week posted the third largest December withdrawal since 2010, behind pulls in 2013 of 285 Bcf and 177 Bcf on December 13 and 20, respectively."
Working natural gas stocks now total 3,806 Bcf, which is 186 Bcf more than the five-year average and 50 Bcf less than last year at this time. The latest data put working natural gas stocks below the five-year maximum for the first time since April 15.