Despite successful efforts to refill natural gas storage, high pricing and volatility have reappeared in much of the United States. It may be time to admit that the rules have changed, and for endusers to begin adapting to a new level of pricing uncertainty.
In July 2003, this column warned about an impending gas crunch due to low levels of stored natural gas, and suggested actions by large users, especially those taking firm (as vs. interruptible) gas service. Over the next six months, the gas industry refilled storage faster than many thought possible, reaching relatively normal storage levels. Many thought that was sufficient to avoid a repeat of last year's huge price spikes.