Principal contributor: Jose Villar
Withdrawals of natural gas from U.S. underground storage facilities totaled 1,707 billion cubic feet (Bcf) during the 2022–23 heating season (November 1 to March 31), after subtracting occasional injections, according to our Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report (WNGSR). This recent heating season’s natural gas withdrawals were the lowest since the 2015–16 winter heating season. After entering the heating season at a 3% deficit to the five-year start-of-winter average, working natural gas in underground storage facilities in the Lower 48 states totaled 1,830 Bcf as of March 31, 2023, exceeding the previous five-year average (2018–22) for that time of year by 19% (294 Bcf). Continued growth in U.S. natural gas production and reduced space heating consumption due to relatively mild winter temperatures accounted for less natural gas withdrawn this winter—despite increased use in electric generation.
This winter heating season was characterized by disparate regional weather patterns. Overall, mild temperatures lessened heating demand this winter, especially in the residential and commercial sectors. Heating degree days (HDD), a temperature-based indicator of heating demand, were 6% below normal in the Lower 48 states.
This winter, U.S. natural gas production increased 5.5% (5.2 Bcf per day) compared with last winter, outpacing consumption growth, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights. During the same period, U.S. natural gas consumption increased 1.7% (1.6 Bcf/d), driven by a 9% increase in consumption to generate electric power.
The areas west of the Rocky Mountains, including the Mountain and Pacific regions, reported significantly below-normal temperatures while most of the rest of the Lower 48 states experienced above-normal temperatures. Colder temperatures and more heating demand left working natural gas stocks in the Pacific storage region 57% lower than the five-year average at 73 Bcf, a record low. HDDs were 23% above normal in the Pacific region and 12% above normal in the Mountain region.