Cold weather and a polar vortex covered much of the Lower 48 U.S. states from Jan. 29–31, resulting in record natural gas consumption in the country, the Energy Information Administration reports.
Total estimated consumption by the power, industrial, and residential/commercial sectors and total estimated natural gas exports — by pipeline and as feedstock to liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities — reached 145.9 billion cubic feet (Bcf) on Jan. 30, compared with the previous record of 143.9 Bcf set Jan. 1, 2018, according to data from PointLogic Energy.
The polar vortex in the Midwest and Northeast led to temperatures much colder than normal, Kallanish Energy understands. According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), daily temperatures in the Lower 48 averaged 28 degrees Fahrenheit (F) for the week ended Jan. 31, which was 6 degrees lower than the 30-year average for the same period, and 11 degrees lower than year-ago levels.
A polar vortex is a large pocket of very cold air which sits over the polar region during the winter season. The frigid air can slide south into the U.S. when the polar vortex is pushed farther south.
The Midwest was the most heavily affected, with temperatures that were lower than normal by 25 degrees or more for three consecutive days.
Estimated use of natural gas by the residential and commercial sectors spiked to 70.9 Bcf on Jan. 30, the third-largest residential and commercial daily consumption of natural gas on record, according to PointLogic. The previous record was set on two days in January 2014 during another polar vortex event.
This year, a handful of public utility companies in the Midwest issued notices asking industrial and residential/commercial customers to temporarily reduce natural gas consumption during the cold weather event. In response to Consumer Energy’s public call, the auto industry halted operations at 18 Michigan plants, keeping an estimated 23,000 employees at home.
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