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Natural gas: met the challenge

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

This winter

According to The National Climatic Data Center, energy demand in the Continental US was 27% higher than average in the 2013 – 2014 winter. Numerous Arctic air outbreaks impacted the Midwest throughout the winter and seven Midwestern states experienced a top 10 cold winter. The northeast, high plains and south were colder than normal with frequent periods of unusual cold and snow. Bentek Energy LLC have said that peak day natural gas consumption in January of this year was 20 billion ft3/d more than normal, leading to total consumption that month reaching nearly 3200 billion ft3, an increase of 500 billion ft3 compared with average consumption for January over the past 10 years. Weather driven residential and commercial demand exceeded 65 billion ft3/d for eight days in January alone, representing extraordinary demand load.

The American Gas Association (AGA) has reported that the natural gas industry performed reliably in the face of colder than normal temperatures and numerous record setting demand days this winter. Much of the nation experienced extreme, sustained cold weather during the winter of 2014. Freezing temperatures frequently covered large portions of the US at once, placing exponentially greater pressure on peak day demand for natural gas, with little recovery time between cold spells. As natural gas travelled along the supply and delivery chain, each segment of the natural gas industry played a key role in helping to ensure that customer demand was met.


Dena Wiggins, President and CEO, Natural Gas Supply Association said, ‘the industry was put to the test and rallied to ensure supply for firm pipeline customers and help non-firm customers make last minute arrangements for supply to the extent possible. Although city gate prices increased in the coldest regions, where pipeline capacity constraint is prevalent, wholesale price increases at Henry Hub were muted compared with preshale gas cold spells. And a glance at the forward price strip shows natural gas priced below US$ 5 as far out as 2017, reflecting the market’s confidence in the ability of the industry to meet future demand.’

Dave McCurdy, president and CEO, AGA said, ‘the 2014 record setting winter with prolonged cold temperatures and peak demand conditions has demonstrated the readiness and resiliency of America’s natural gas network. Natural gas utilities work all year to prepare for these types of cold temperatures, and employ a portfolio approach to help ensure they can meet the needs of their customers at affordable prices. Providing this kind of safe and reliable service has been not just the core business, but the mission of natural gas utilities for decades.’

Adapted from press release by Claira Lloyd

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