Production of natural gas and its use in the United States were both up in the first month of 2016 compared with January 2015, but not at the same heady rates of increase the industry has become accustomed to, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Dry gas production was 2.30 Tcf in January, a 1.3% increase compared with 2.27 Tcf in January 2015, according to EIA's latest Monthly Energy Review (MER), which was released Tuesday. In January 2013, dry gas production was 2.08 Tcf.

Marketed production was 2.45 Tcf in January, compared with 2.40 Tcf in January 2015 and 2.21 in January 2014. Marketed production averaged 78.9 Bcf/d last year (a 5.4% increase from 2014), and EIA has said it expects growth will slow to 0.9% this year as low natural gas prices and declining rig activity begin to affect production (see Daily GPIMarch 8). But in 2017 EIA expects production growth to increase to 2.1%, as forecast prices rise, industrial demand grows, and liquefied natural gas exports increase.

Consumption numbers were also on the upswing, EIA said, reaching 3.14 Tcf in January, up from 3.13 Tcf in January 2015, but still below the 3.22 Tcf recorded in January 2014, the largest consumption of any month in the past two years.

Consumption in the electric power sector increased to 802 Bcf in January, compared with 738 Bcf in the year-ago period, according to the MER. Residential consumption in January was 917 Bcf (compared with 964 Bcf in January 2015); commercial was 525 Bcf (548 Bcf); industrial was 883 Bcf (874 Bcf); and transportation was 105 Bcf (104 Bcf).

EIA last week reported a storage build of 7 Bcf for the week ended April 15, bringing natural gas inventories now to 2,484 Bcf, a robust 881 Bcf greater than last year and 811 Bcf more than the five-year average (see Daily GPIApril 21). Net storage injections in January were 539 Bcf, compared with 725 Bcf during the same period last year, according to the MER.

Net imports of natural gas were down for the reporting period (105 Bcf this year, compared with 135 Bcf last year), EIA said.