In spite of a temporary disruption to natural gas supplies because of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, the Texas Energy Reliability Council (TERC) said Tuesday winter supplies will be adequate — but gas bills are expected to be a lot higher.

“Texas produces more than 30% of the total U.S. natural gas production, and the state’s gas production remains strong and should remain stable based on the increasing number of active rigs and well completions in Texas,” said Elizabeth Ames Jones, chair of the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), which requested a report from TERC on winter supplies.

The RRC commissioners had asked TERC to cover several issues, including winter natural gas supplies and the impact of high natural gas prices on consumers.

The RRC Gas Services Division indicates that Texas’ monthly working gas storage was 267 Bcf for August 2005, compared with 305 Bcf in August 2004. The drop in working gas storage occurred despite slightly higher annual production in the past year. Texas’ total annual natural gas production for the 12-month period ending June 2005 is 5,998 Bcf, compared with 5,942 Bcf for the same period of 2004.

“While supplies will be adequate, the market is indicating that prices will be much higher, so Texans need to be prepared for higher natural gas bills,” noted RRC Commissioner Michael L. Williams. “Preparations such as proper insulation and weatherization will ease the impact on everyone’s pocketbooks.”

Analysts nationwide are predicting that gas prices this winter may increase anywhere from 39% to 95%, and could go as high as $15/Mcf. To prepare for higher natural gas bills this winter, consumers are urged to practice conservation measures that include insulating, sealing and weather-stripping windows and doors; adding insulation to attics; making sure duct work is properly insulated and sealed; and keeping blinds and draperies open on sunny days to let in the sun’s warmth.

Utilities attending Tuesday’s meeting noted that they will be conducting extensive customer awareness and education programs over the next few months to inform customers about how to conserve energy and to equalize bills throughout the year. The utilities also will be providing information on low-income assistance programs.

©Copyright 2005Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.