On Monday as record setting Hurricane Sandy was plowing into the East Coast, another record was quietly being broken. That record was all time U.S. natural gas production. According to Bentek numbers it increased to 64.9 Bcf/d (total natural gas production less NGLs and other shrinkage, lower 48 states).
This follows a report from the EIA that forecasts U.S. natural gas production in 2012 will average an all- time high of 68.85 billion cubic feet a day, up 4 percent from last year.
Even the effect from Superstorm Sandy may be minimal, as NG prices rise to new 2012 highs.
"There may be less demand this week because of power outages, but I'm not sure about the net effect with all the nuclear plants down. There are a lot of nuke units out now," a Chicago-based trader said.
Front-month December gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange ended down 11.2 cents, or near 3 percent, at $3.691 per million British thermal units after trading between $3.65 and $3.82, the highest for the front contract in nearly a year.
Some traders estimated that up to 1 billion cubic feet of daily demand for gas used to generate electricity could be lost because of power outages. But nuclear plant outages are running about 32,000
megawatts, or nearly 13,000 MW above last year, and should partly offset the lost load from downed power lines. Plants burning gas typically make up much of the missing nuclear generation.