Thursday, March 26, 2015

2014 Natural Gas Flows

One of my favorite EIA graphics is the annual energy flow for each of the major energy categories:  total energy, petroleum, natural gas, coal, and electricity.  Obviously, I'm particularly interested in natural gas.  What I like about it is that it shows how gas is consumed across a variety of user groups.  What it also shows is that once LNG export facilities start to come on line, the exports category (highlighted in yellow below) will grow from a stream to a river, further enhancing the diversity of consumers.

Just be glad you don't have a flow that looks like coal's:

That's a lot of dependency on electrical power, which, granted, is consumed across a customer base of residential, commercial and industrial users, something that mimics natural gas to a certain degree.  But what is not clear by looking at the charts above is the fact that low gas prices tilt the fuel choice for utilities to gas where switching is an option.  The impact in the reverse direction is pretty much only felt by gas in the electric power category.  With the upcoming retirement of a number of old coal plants in the next half decade, look for the overall coal flow to narrow while the electric power flow for gas widens.

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