Natural gas consumption record set

Cold snap in January leads to heavy demand

On Jan. 16, 2024, a record of 141.5 billion cubic feet (Bcf) of natural gas was consumed in the U.S. Lower 48 state, exceeding the previous record set on Dec. 23, 2022, according to estimates from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), which reported the findings, well-below-normal temperatures caused by a large mass of arctic air that covered most of the continental United States increased demand of natural gas used for residential and commercial space heating and for electric power generation. Both consumption of natural gas and withdrawals from underground storage increased to record volumes because of the higher demand.

Natural gas consumption in the Lower 48 averaged above 130.0 (Bcf/d) from Jan.14 through Jan. 21, 2024, as arctic air pushed south into the United States, causing temperatures to fall. Extreme wind chills, freezing rain, and snowy conditions persisted from the Pacific Northwest into Texas and across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. Residential and commercial natural gas consumption accounted for almost 49% of Lower 48 consumption during that period, up from 42% during the start of January, as homes and commercial buildings used more natural gas for heating. Electricity generation also increased during that time, with natural gas-fired and coal-fired electricity generation increasing to meet increased demand, the EIA said.

Natural gas was also withdrawn from underground storage at close to record volumes to meet the increased heating and electricity consumption during the cold snap. Weekly net withdrawals of natural gas from underground storage in the Lower 48 for the week of Saturday, Jan. 13, through Friday, Jan. 19, totaled 326 Bcf, the third-most for any week on record, the EIA said.

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