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US gas demand falters, supply holds near steady in 3rd week of March

Natural gas demand in the U.S. deflated amid flat to lower consumption across all sectors during the week ended March 21, while a combination of growing production and declining imports kept supply almost unchanged, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its latest "Natural Gas Weekly Update" released March 22.

Total U.S. gas consumption was 5% lower week on week, from 80.8 Bcf/d to 76.6 Bcf/d.

Power burn logged a 1% slump relative to the prior-week level as it faltered from 23.5 Bcf/d to 23.2 Bcf/d, while industrial-sector demand notched a 3% reduction over the same period as it unraveled from 22.4 Bcf/d to 21.8 Bcf/d. Residential/commercial-sector consumption posted a 9% decline versus the week earlier as it fell from 34.9 Bcf/d to 31.7 Bcf/d, as a warming trend was observed in the Southeast.

Natural gas exports to Mexico and LNG exports were reportedly constant week over week at 4.3 Bcf/d and 3.2 Bcf/d, respectively.

Four vessels carrying a combined 14.9 Bcf of LNG left the Sabine Pass liquefaction facility from March 15 to March 21 and one tanker with an LNG-carrying capacity of 3.7 Bcf was seen loading at the terminal on March 21. Meanwhile, Cove Point's first cargo transported by the Gemmata tanker that has an LNG-carrying capacity of 3.0 Bcf is said to have arrived in the United Kingdom on March 21 after departing the terminal on March 2.

Overall U.S. gas supply averaged 86.2 Bcf/d during the week under review, versus 85.9 Bcf/d in the previous report period. Dry production notched a 1% gain week on week as it rose from 78.7 Bcf/d to 79.1 Bcf/d, while net imports from Canada logged a 2% slump on the week as it slipped from 7.0 Bcf/d to 6.9 Bcf/d.

Working natural gas in storage was at 1,446 Bcf, or 667 Bcf below the year-ago level and 329 Bcf below the five-year average of 1,775 Bcf, after the EIA outlined a net 86-Bcf withdrawal in its latest storage data for the week ended March 16 that bested the 53-Bcf five-year average pull but trailed the 137-Bcf year-ago draw.

Assuming storage draws match the five-year average for the remainder of the withdrawal season, the EIA sees working gas stocks reaching 1,373 Bcf on March 31, which is 19% lower than the five-year average.