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Build looks to drop for week in progress

Denver — The US Energy Information Administration reported a second consecutive triple-digit build, but production declines could affect the injection for the week in progress.

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Storage inventories increased by 103 Bcf to 2.422 Tcf for the week ended May 8, the US Energy Information Administration reported Thursday morning.

The injection was less than S&P Global Platts' survey of analysts calling for a 110 Bcf build. Responses to the survey ranged from an injection of 89 Bcf to 118 Bcf.

The injection was more than the 100 Bcf build reported during the same week last year as well as the five-year average addition of 75 Bcf.

Storage volumes now stand 799 Bcf, or 49%, higher than the year-ago level of 1.623 Tcf and 413 Bcf, or 20.6%, more than the five-year average of 2.009 Tcf.

Upstream, supplies were down by a combined 1.7 Bcf/d to an average 92.6 Bcf/d, mainly on a drop in onshore production, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. The Midcontinent market showed a substantial drop in production of nearly 1 Bcf/d and was joined by smaller declines spread across several other regions as well. The rapid downturn in the balance highlights how the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on US gas markets will shift this summer from a bearish demand story to a bullish production one.

June Henry Hub NYMEX rallied 8 cents following the report, helping shore-up recent declines in the balance-of-summer strip pricing, which had dipped below $2/MMBtu at Wednesday's close after only 10 days prior peaking at $2.35. Spreads to next winter have widened in the past few weeks, and the winter contract strip is now trading roughly 85 cents over the balance of summer, which may induce elevated injection activity.

Platts Analytics' supply and demand model expects a 79 Bcf addition to US storage volumes for the week ending May 15. This would be 8 Bcf less than the five-year average.

The week in progress has seen a re-tightening of balances as supply has held virtually flat while residential and commercial demand has rallied on colder weather across the eastern United States. Total demand has increased by an average 4.3 Bcf/d on the week as temperatures plummeted by an average 7.5 degrees across the higher-demand Midcontinent and Northeast regions, according to Platts Analytics.

This has helped support a resurgence of residential and commercial demand, but the colder weather is expected to lift by this weekend, likely sending demand lower once again. Upstream, supplies have remained more or less locked-in at just below 93 Bcf/d, with all of this week's 400 MMcf/d increase stemming from an increase in net imports from Canada, to meet the stronger demand in the Midwest and Northeast.

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