Mild winter is forecast for most US gas-burning states

15 October 2009 19:10  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS news)--US western and central states should see warmer than average temperatures during North American winter months, but the northeast and south may have a colder season, federal forecasters said on Thursday.

The 2009 winter outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that much of the US where natural gas is the predominant home-heating fuel will have a mild winter.

That, in turn, suggests that demand for natural gas during the winter months of December through February will be below normal and could help moderate natural gas prices.

US petrochemical producers, downstream chemical makers and other manufacturers are heavily dependent on natural gas as either a feedstock or power fuel or both.

US underground storage of natural gas is expected to reach a new record of 3,889bn cubic feet (bcf) by the end of this month, the traditional end of the pre-winter gas storage build-up.

That record level of gas also would mark full capacity for the nation’s underground storage systems.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said that winter temperatures would be warmer than normal for US western states and the upper midwest or north-central part of the country, especially in the region from Montana to Wisconsin.

Those are areas of the country where natural gas is more commonly used than heating oil in homes and businesses to fend off winter’s chill.

The climate center said, however, that below-average temperatures are likely this winter for the southeast and mid-Atlantic states, ranging from eastern Texas to southern Pennsylvania and further south to Florida.

In those regions, newer homes are likely to have gas-fired heating systems, while older homes may still rely on oil.

The climate center said it could not offer a general forecast for the US north-eastern states, saying the region could see temperatures slightly above normal, at normal or somewhat below the trend.

The northeast is more heavily dependent on oil as a home heating fuel.

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By: Joe Kamalick
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