Deliveries of the heating and power-plant fuel jumped to 143 Bcf on New Year’s Day in the lower 48 states, PointLogic Energy data show. That tops the previous record reached four years ago during the “polar vortex,” which unleashed bone-chilling conditions across the Midwest and Northeast. Gas futures have surged in response, though they’re still trading at less than half the high they reached in 2014.
America’s increasing reliance on gas has stoked speculation that a frigid winter will drain the nation’s stockpiles -- already below normal for the time of year -- sending prices soaring. The U.S. is exporting more gas than ever, via pipeline to Mexico and on tankers sailing across the globe, and power plants are burning record amounts as coal generators and nuclear reactors shut amid competition from cheap shale supplies.