HOUSTON, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Working natural gas storage in the contiguous United States was 2,197 billion cubic feet (about 62 billion cubic meters) as of last Friday, a net decrease of 173 billion cubic feet from the previous week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in a report on Thursday.
At the level of 2,197 billion cubic feet, the natural gas storage decreased by 0.6 percent from last year at this time, or down by 13 percent from the level of five-year average of 2,525 billion cubic feet.
The contiguous United States, or Lower 48 states, consists of the 48 adjoining U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia, which excludes the non-contiguous states of Alaska and Hawaii, and all off-shore insular areas.
Working natural gas is defined as the amount of natural gas stored underground that can be withdrawn for use.
Working natural gas storage capacity can be measured in two ways: design capacity and demonstrated maximum working gas capacity.
According to the report released in March 2018 by EIA, U.S. natural gas design capacity was up slightly, with nationally design capacity up by 0.7 percent, or 34 billion cubic feet, between November 2016 and November 2017, increasing to 4,725 billion cubic feet.
U.S. demonstrated peak storage capacity, in contrast to design capacity, was down in nearly every region and down 1.0 percent for the Lower 48 states as of November 2017 compared with November 2016, or by 46 billion cubic feet, to 4,317 billion cubic feet.
In its Annual Energy Outlook 2019 (AEO2019) which was released last week, EIA forecast U.S. natural gas and natural gas plant liquids (NGPLs) would see the highest production growth of all fossil fuels, and NGPLs are expected to account for nearly one-third of cumulative U.S. liquids production through the 2050 projection period.
AEO2019 also showed that U.S. net exports of natural gas would continue to grow as liquefied natural gas (LNG) becomes an increasingly significant export. Relatively low, stable natural gas prices would make U.S. natural gas competitive in North American and global markets.