The merry month of May marks the end of the U.S. heating season, so it?s time to look at the natural gas we?ve burned in the last 12 months. Fortunately, the nation was blessed with mild weather during the year ending April 30. Gas use for heating and cooling was 322 billion cubic feet (4 percent) less than the average of the last five years, according to my model. Even though prices paid to producers increased 10 percent, supplies were 100 Bcf less than consumption for uses other than heating and cooling. Gas in storage grew only 228 Bcf over the same period?about 100 Bcf less than the gas saved because of mild weather. The U.S. Energy Information Administration now projects gas consumption to increase only 2.1 percent in 2005 over 2004 based on its use for heating and cooling returning to average with no increase in other consumption. Supplies are also expected to remain tight, despite increasing imports of liquefied natural gas; EIA projects Henry Hub prices to remain above $7.00\/MMBtu through 2006. During the 2000-01 season, heating and cooling loads were more than 1 trillion cubic feet higher than last year, producing the first gas price shock. We may have dodged a bullet last year because of the mild weather. Storage levels dropped below 1,300 Bcf last April, so burning an additional 1,000 Bcf more in the coming months would nearly deplete storage. If production also were to falter even slightly?or industrial demand increase?we?d be in serious trouble. So far this year, supplies appear to be increasing relative to consumption after adjusting for weather. Given average temperatures, we should be okay, although there is little likelihood of a surplus large enough to reduce prices significantly. But we?re teetering on the edge, so let?s hope the weather cooperates.