Why Did US Natural Gas Consumption Hit a 3-Month Low?

US natural gas consumption

The EIA (U.S. Energy Information Administration) estimates that monthly US natural gas consumption fell by 18.8 Bcf (billion cubic feet) per day to 77.3 Bcf per day in February 2017—compared to the previous month. Consumption fell 20% month-over-month and 12.7% year-over-year. It’s the lowest consumption levels in the last three months.

The fall in natural gas consumption is bearish for natural gas (UGAZ) (DGAZ) (UNG) prices. For more on what drives consumption, read Part 2 of this series.

Why Did US Natural Gas Consumption Hit a 3-Month Low?

US natural gas consumption estimates 

The EIA released its monthly STEO (Short-Term Energy Outlook) report on May 9, 2017. It estimates that US natural gas consumption will average 73.4 Bcf per day and 76.5 Bcf per day in 2017 and 2018, respectively. These estimates are 0.1% and 0.6% higher than previous estimates. The key driver of natural gas demand is industrial power consumption in 2017. The rise in electrical, residential, and commercial consumption would drive the demand for natural gas in 2018.

US natural gas consumption averaged 75.1 Bcf per day in 2016 and 74.7 Bcf per day in 2015. For updates on natural gas production, read the previous part of this series.

Impact of slowing consumption  

The fall in consumption in 2017 could also pressure natural gas prices. Lower natural gas prices could have a negative impact on oil and gas producers’ earnings like Rex Energy (REXX), Rice Energy (RICE), EQT (EQT), and Antero Resources (AR).

In the final part of this series, we’ll look at some natural gas price forecasts.