The Energy Information Administration continues to be bearish ongas wellhead prices this year but expects prices to remain abovethe $2/Mcf mark because of the possibility that temperatures willbe higher than normal this summer and coal delivery problems maypersist in Texas. In its May Short Term Energy Outlook, the EIAsaid it expects wellhead prices to average $2.15/Mcf this year,down 3.6% from the $2.23/Mcf average in 1997.
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El Nino Pushes Energy Use Down Sharply
Although the most recent estimates from the Energy InformationAdministration show gas consumption so far this winter to be up1.7%, or 1.28 Bcf/d, from the same period last winter (Novemberthrough February), the warming effects of El Nino continue to put adamper on gas and energy use. Since the beginning of November,population weighted heating degree days as calculated by theNational Weather Service have averaged about 10% fewer than normaland 7.6% fewer than last winter. But since Jan. 1, there have been20% fewer heating degree days than normal (1,438 HDD compared to1,801 HDDs) and 15% fewer than last year (1,683 HDDs). Heatingdegree days are calculated by measuring the differences between themean daily temperatures in 200 cities across the U.S. and 65degrees. Every region of the country has had fewer HHDs than normalduring the months of January and February.