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We’re running out of room to store natural gas

Sarah Gardner Apr 9, 2012

Kai Ryssdal: The mild winter we’re getting out of now was a welcome surprise to a lot of people in the East and Midwest this year. Less snow shoveling, lower home heating bills, among other benefits.

Warmer than expected weather, though, wasn’t so popular with all the companies out there busily drilling for natural gas. They’ve got a glut on their hands, and they’re running of places to put it.

Marketplace’s Sarah Gardner reports from the Sustainability Desk.

Sarah Gardner: Talk about a natural gas explosion. In the past five years, U.S. production has shot up nearly 25 percent, says Chris McGill at the American Gas Association.

Chris McGill:To a point today where actually the United States is the largest-producing natural gas country in the world.

But supply is currently outstripping demand. And the surplus is quickly filling up the nation’s underground storage facilities. We’re talking mostly depleted oil reservoirs and aquifers. Some analysts say unless production falls off a cliff or demand spikes this summer, we could run out of storage space by fall.

Analyst Amber McCullagh says energy companies have already slowed down natural gas production and are focusing elsewhere.

Amber McCullagh:Companies are dramatically shifting drilling toward oil plays.

A better investment right now, since oil is selling for over 100 bucks a barrel. But McCullagh says once the natural gas glut is consumed, she expects prices to bounce back, along with production.

I’m Sarah Gardner for Marketplace.

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