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US working natural gas volumes in underground storage increase 49 Bcf: EIA

Highlights

Henry Hub winter strip surpasses $4/MMBtu

Remainder-of-summer-to-winter spread narrows

The natural gas injection into US storage fields in the week ended July 16 measured 12 Bcf more than the five-year average, but upcoming builds look more in line with historical norms as the Henry Hub winter strip surpasses $4/MMBtu, which is $1.35 more than this time last July.

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Working gas in storage increased by 49 Bcf to 2.678 Tcf for the week, the US Energy Information Administration reported July 22. It was more than the 43 Bcf addition expected by an S&P Global Platts' survey of analysts. It also outgained the five-year average build of 36 Bcf and last year's 38 Bcf injection in the corresponding week.

Storage volumes now stand 532 Bcf, or 16.6%, less than the year-ago level of 3.210 Tcf and 176 Bcf, or 6.2%, less than the five-year average of 2.854 Tcf. The build was less than the 55 Bcf injection reported for the week prior as demand increases outpaced those in supply.

Total US demand averaged roughly 2.2 Bcf/d higher week over week, according to Platts Analytics. Gas-fired power demand grew across multiple regions, most notably in the US Southwest where burns increased by nearly 1 Bcf/d week over week.

The NYMEX Henry Hub August contract added 2 cents to $3.98/MMBtu in trading following the release of the weekly storage report. The balance-of-summer averaged $3.97, which is only 5 cents less than the winter strip, providing little to no incentive to inject. November through March are up 1.6 cents/MMBtu for an average $4.02/MMBtu. This time last year, when storage measured 436 Bcf more than the five-year average, the winter strip was $2.65/MMBtu and 90 cents above the balance of summer.

The EIA's Pacific region posted a net withdrawal of 3 Bcf for the week. This reflected the heat wave impacting California and other Western states, while the eastern half of the US was more temperate.

Storage injections in the EIA's Pacific region have lagged behind typical levels this summer, as operators struggle to meet elevated demand while maintaining steady injections. Pacific storage activity trended bearish relative to the five-year average in April and May, adding 71 Bcf versus 63 Bcf during the shoulder season. The arrival of hot weather reversed that, with June and July injecting 16 Bcf in 2021 versus the five-year average of 24 Bcf over the same period.

Platts Analytics' supply and demand model currently forecasts a 33 Bcf injection for the week ending July 23, which would measure 5 Bcf more than the five-year average. Fundamentals this week have tightened further, but to a lesser degree, as demand has risen by around 400 MMcf/d while supplies fell 300 MMcf/d. The following week shows a 27 Bcf addition compared to the five-year average injection of 30 Bcf.

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