EIA expects further annual slumps, with forecasts of declines in natural gas consumption of 0.2 Bcf/day in 2021, followed by a drop of 0.9 Bcf/d in 2022. The lower consumption from 2020 is attributed to warmer weather and weaker economic activity resulted from the pandemic, leading to less natural gas consumption in the industrial sector.
After being the only sector that had growth in natural gas consumption in 2020, the electric power sector is expected to be the primary source of the decline in natural gas consumption from 2021. With gas prices at historic lows in 2019 & 2020, natural gas is now more competitive than coal in the race to generate electric power.
EIA forecasts that all the other consuming sectors will have demand increases, but this will not offset lower consumption in the electric power sector, sparking an overall decrease in 2021.
The colder temperatures during early 2021, mixed with expectations of returning to typical weather during the end of 2021, resulted in a higher forecasted annual average consumption for 2021, both residential and commercial sectors, but followed by a slight decline in 2022.