EIA delivers good news about U.S. gas inventories

Jet pumps can help gas well operators meet their production goals.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) recently released an optimistic forecast indicating that natural gas inventories may exceed their usual level of 3,800 billion cubic feet by the end of October, which typically marks the end of the summer injection season.

According to the agency, injections during this summer have significantly outpaced those made in 2012, although they have been largely similar to those seen during the previous four years. Rising output from domestic oil and gas wells has been one factor in the rate of injections, but the EIA highlighted several other causes of the change of pace.

"Injections were historically low last summer because the warmest winter in 60 years left end-of-season inventories at record highs," an EIA spokesperson explained in a press release. The agency also noted that inventories have been buoyed in 2013 by a decline in the use of gas by electrical utilities, prompted by an increase in the price of the resource. During 2012, with the price of natural gas at a 10-year low, its use in electrical generation surged as it became more competitive relative to coal.

There was a late-winter drawdown of natural gas inventories this year due to unusually cold temperatures in March. However, inventories remained above the average levels seen in recent years, according to the EIA. The agency also noted that storage levels may continue to rise into November, depending on weather conditions.

"To meet their target storage inventory levels for the start of the 2013-14 winter, many local distribution companies will need to increase the amount of natural gas they have in underground storage fields this summer compared to last summer," the agency explained.

As producers seek to meet storage targets in the final months of the season, they may want to begin thinking about what their equipment needs will be in 2014. Contemporary production technology has continued to become more sophisticated and companies that are relying on outdated well pumps may not be getting the most value out of their properties.

The hydraulic jet pump has gained recognition among many industry stakeholders due to its versatility. The unit's streamlined design allows it to be deployed in straight, horizontal or deviated wells and with no downhole moving parts, maintenance needs are minimal.