Last year’s bitter winter wreaked havoc on American natural gas stocks, sending prices soaring and producers scrambling to refill stores ahead of this year’s cooler months. Thanks to the shale revolution, we seem to have pulled off what looked to be an impossible task, a feat that will be borne out in lower heating bills this winter. The FT reports:
Henry hub gas futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a broader gauge of the US market, are down 13 per cent since the official start of winter to $3 per million British thermal units, the lowest level in more than two years.
Natural gas is used to heat half of American households yet month after month, US gas output has hit record levels despite moderating prices.
After last winter’s heavy natural gas consumption, it took most of 2014 to refill those stocks, but, surprisingly, they have been nearly refilled to average levels for this time of year. A recovered supply is helping to keep prices down, which is good news for homeowners keeping an eye on their heating bills this winter.
This kind of quick turnaround is unprecedented, and comes to us all thanks to the shale boom. Not only are more wells being drilled and more gas produced, but the infrastructure to bring these new gas sources to market has been beefed up over the past year. There’s still room for improvement there as America’s pipeline network adapts to new nodes of energy production, but this issue of abundance is the kind of problem most countries would love to have. While more than one million English families with children will live in fuel poverty this winter, here in the U.S., shale is proving to be a timely gift for households looking to keep the heat on.