Natural gas output in the Appalachia region, the top gas-producing basin in the U.S., dropped by a record amount as Winter Storm Elliott swept through Pennsylvania and Ohio, freezing wells and some equipment and creating mechanical issues at pipeline infrastructure.
The Appalachia basin saw natural gas supply drop by 27%, or by 9 billion cubic feet, compared to the typical levels, according to estimates by BloombergNEF based on pipeline flows. The decline was the steepest on record in data since 2013, Bloomberg notes.
In Pennsylvania, natural gas production fell by more than 20%, due to well freeze-offs. In Ohio, output more than halved, according to Bloomberg’s estimates.
Winter Storm Elliott cut off the power supply to millions of households and disrupted Christmas travel plans for millions more as thousands of flights were canceled. Just ahead of the Christmas holiday weekend, almost 250 million U.S. and Canadian residents were affected by the storm in one way or another, and dozens of people have died.
As of Tuesday, December 27, U.S. natural gas production was still significantly below the levels of the past weeks. Early production data, cited by Natural Gas Intelligence, showed that American natural gas output was still around 80-86 Bcf/d, well below the 100 Bcf/d production of the past weeks and months.
Several gas pipelines continued to report issues this week, which has further constrained the ability of gas flows to the systems.
The plunge in the Appalachia natural gas production exacerbated issues at the grids as lower volumes of gas were sent via pipelines to gas-fired power generation units.
This happened just as power demand surged during the storm, straining electricity systems in some areas in the U.S. The Tennessee Valley Authority and Duke Energy implemented rolling blackouts in the Tennessee Valley and the Carolinas ahead of Christmas Eve to maintain grid stability.