September U.S. Natural Gas Use +9.4% Vs Year-Earlier

Published: Nov 30, 2012

By David Bird

NEW YORK--Total U.S. natural gas demand rose 9.4% in September from a year earlier, to 1.79 trillion cubic feet, the Energy Information Adminstration said Friday.

That's the highest ever in September, according to EIA data beginning in 2001. September marked the sixth straight month of year-on-year rises in gas demand. Since April, the year-on-year gains have averaged 9.2%. Those gains followed a 5.4% year-on-year drop in March, which capped an unusally warm winter.

Natural-gas use by the electric power sector rose 17.9% in September from a year earlier, to a total of 806.8 billion cubic feet. That was also the highest September gas demand from power generators in 12 years of EIA data.

Gas demand jumped as record-high inventories kept prices cheap relative to coal, its main competitor for utiltiies who can easily switch their fuel source. Benchmark U.S. natural gas futures prices in September averaged more than 24% below year-earlier levels.

Monthly gas use by power companies last declined on a year-to-year basis in September 2011. In the 12 months since then, demand has posted an average year-on-year rise of 22%, EIA data show