Denver — Storage inventories increased by 26 Bcf to 3.241 Tcf for the week ended July 24, the US Energy Information Administration reported July 30.
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US natural gas in underground storage increased by the lowest net volume of the injection season last week under record-setting gas-fired generation demand, but a lowered demand outlook for August prompted the NYMEX Henry Hub balance-of-summer contract strip to retreat.
The injection was more than an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts calling for a 23 Bcf build. The injection measured less than the 56 Bcf build reported during the same week last year as well as the five-year average gain of 33, according to EIA data. It was the smallest net injection of the year.
Storage volumes now stand at 626 Bcf, or 24%, more than the year-ago level of 2.615 Tcf, and 429 Bcf, or 15.3%, more than the five-year average of 2.812 Tcf.
The NYMEX Henry Hub balance-of-summer contract strip, now including only the months of September and October, sold off sharply following a slightly larger-than-anticipated storage inventory increase last week, with September trading down 6 cents, to $1.87, and October down 5 cents, to $2.03. With September now advancing to the prompt-month slot, it is the last contract in the entire strip trading below $2. October kicks off a steep section of the curve that hits just shy of $3 by the beginning of next year, with January 2021 hitting resistance just below at $2.99 the morning of July 30.
Platts Analytics supply and demand model currently forecasts a 26 Bcf injection for the week ending July 31, which would be 7 Bcf less than the five-year average, causing another reduction to the storage overhang. However, overall US demand is forecast to slip during August, prompting larger injections.
After several consecutive weeks of tightening, US supply-demand balances are trending looser for the week ending July 31 as temperature-driven power burn demand has begun to sputter and the LNG sector faces continuing weak demand.
Total supplies have held mostly flat, with the week's 0.1 Bcf/d net decline composed of a 0.3 Bcf/d drop in storm-related offshore production declines partly offset by nominal increases in LNG sendout and net Canadian imports. Downstream, total demand has fallen by 1.4 Bcf/d on the week, with power burn demand dipping 0.7 Bcf/d on the week and LNG export terminals taking 0.5 Bcf/d less volume than a week earlier.