HOUSTON — America’s Natural Gas Alliance, an industry group that represents producers, said that a large investment in infrastructure and a rapid buildup in inventories has made more natural gas available this winter than last, despite 2014’s cold winter that left storage of the fuel at decade-long lows.
Natural gas is a common fuel for both home heating and electricity generation, and is relied upon heavily as energy needs for both of those sectors rise during the winter months. Last winter, spot prices in several markets spiked as temperatures fell. This winter, said America’s Natural Gas Alliance President and CEO Marty Durbin, producers have been working hard to rebuild inventories and ensure a constant supply.
About $19 billion in investment in natural gas infrastructure came online in 2014 and has opened new routes for natural gas to flow to markets that need gas the most, according to ANGA figures. More than half of the that investment has been in infrastructure-constrained areas such as the Northeast, executives said.
Figures reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration have tracked about 30 weeks of higher-than-average natural gas injections into storage. Still, inventories at near the end of the traditional storage-building season were 220 billion cubic feet lower than last year’s total of 3,831 billion cubic feet and 237 billion cubic feet below the five-year average of 3,848 billion cubic feet.
But taking into account higher production and new infrastructure means that there’s actually more gas on hand as this winter sets in compared to last, he said.
“We’ve seen record injections that have brought natural gas storage to just under the five-year average,” he said. “If you couple it with the increased production, we’ve now got more natural gas this winter than we had going into last winter.”
Durbin also addressed a hostile political climate that has made investment in infrastructure more difficult, especially in the northeast.
“Every pipeline is now becoming a Keystone XL, and that’s not healthy,” he said.
Durbin also addressed environmental concerns, saying that that the natural gas industry was making progress on methane emissions, and would continue to make further improvements. The group said it would be monitoring Environmental Protection Agency regulations aimed at electricity generation-related emissions.