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US gas demand, supply tick higher to start April

Naturalgas supply and demand in the United States were higher during the week endedApril 6, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its latest"Natural Gas WeeklyUpdate" released April 7.

The EIAreported that overall U.S. gas demand was up 0.5% from the level, as a 1.4% week-over-weekuptick in residential/commercial-sector consumption and a 2.2% increase inexports to Mexico over the same period undermined a 0.3% slump inindustrial-sector demand and a marginal 0.1% reduction in power burn.

Theagency noted that while natural gas consumption for electric generation wasessentially flat nationally on the week, variations were observed across regions.

TotalU.S. gas supply notched a 1.1% gain week over week, driven by a significantgrowth of 23.2%, or about 1 Bcf/d, in imports from Canada, from the week-agolevel. LNG sendout rose by 3.6% week on week but remained a negligiblecontributor to overall supply, as dry gas production faltered by 0.2% over thesame period to stand at 0.8% below the year-ago level.

Interms of inventories, the latest storage data from the EIA outlined a net12-Bcf injection tostocks for the week ended April 1 that was the final week of the 2015/16heating season. This compared against a 19-Bcf five-year-average withdrawal anda 6-Bcf build seen in the corresponding week in 2015.

Thereported addition to stocks took overall inventories to 2,480 Bcf, exceedingthe previous end-of-season record of 2,473 Bcf set on March 31, 2012. Stocksare 1,008 Bcf above the year-ago level and 874 Bcf above the five-year averageof 1,606 Bcf.

EIAdata show that temperatures across the contiguous U.S. averaged 51 degreesFahrenheit during the storage review week, which is 6% above normal and 5%higher than at the same time last year, continuing a pattern that has occurredsince the onset of the 2015/16 heating season on Nov. 1, 2015. Temperatures havetrended above normal for 19 out of 22 weeks in the 2015/16 heating season,while cumulative heating degree-days over the same period are 17% below normal.

Robust inventories due towarmer weather, strong production

"Warmer-than-normaltemperatures and relatively high production have led to high end-of-Marchstorage levels," the EIA said.

Despiteending March 2015 at a total of 1,458 Bcf, or about 12% below the five-yearaverage for that time, inventories have managed to exceed and remain above thefive-year average since May 2015 and to move into the winter heating season ata record high of 4,009 Bcf, according to the EIA.

Asthe winter heating season unfolded from November through March, most weeklydrawdowns came in below the five-year average, with the net withdrawal over thecourse of the season coming in at 728 Bcf lower than the five-year average and655 Bcf lower than in the previous year.

FromNovember through March, residential consumption averaged at about 21.0 Bcf/d,versus 24.9 Bcf/d over the same period in the prior year and a five-yearaverage of 23.5 Bcf/d, according to the EIA. Meanwhile, production which showedsigns of slowing down during the winter, nevertheless reportedly ended theperiod at "relatively high levels."