Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No Surprise: Utilities Drive Higher 2012 Natural Gas Consumption

As previously noted, natural gas consumption in 2012 was 5.1% greater than in 2011 and 10.9% above the ten year average.  The biggest reason for the greater consumption was higher use in the utility sector, which used 20.6% more gas in 2012 than in 2011 and 43.4% more gas in 2012 than the ten year average..  Residential consumption was the biggest loser in 2012, down 11.7% versus 2011 and down 12.9% compared to the ten year average.

With the movements noted above, utilities represented 39.1% of all natural gas consumed in 2012, up from 26.7% in 2002.  A jump of 12.4 percentage points is big.  By comparison, residential use dropped from 23.0% in 2002 to 17.9% in 2012.

The spread between  utility gas consumption in 2012 versus 2011 was pretty consistent through the first ten months of the year but narrowed in November and December...

...Whereas the disparity between residential consumption in 2012 versus 2011 narrowed in May and stayed pretty close for the rest of the year.

Year-end consumption in the residential sector is approaching normal levels, while consumption among utilities is still running strong.  Given that utility consumption in the last months of 2011 was significantly higher than the same months of 2010, it appears as though 2012 was matching 2011's year end gains.  If these trends hold, it bodes well for natural gas.

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