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US natural gas in underground storage increases by 59 Bcf: EIA

Highlights

Henry Hub prompt month dips slightly

Somewhat smaller build likely for week in progress

Denver — US natural gas in storage added 59 Bcf last week, just below a survey of analysts expecting a 61 Bcf build, while NYMEX Henry Hub futures remained nearly static following the announcement.

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US natural gas in storage increased to 2.79 Tcf for the week ended August 16, the US Energy Information Administration reported Thursday morning.

The injection was slightly less than an S&P Global Platts' survey of analysts calling for a 61 Bcf injection. Survey responses ranged from 54 to 65 Bcf. The build was more than the 47 Bcf build reported during the corresponding week in 2018, as well as the five-year average injection of 51 Bcf, according to EIA data.

As a result, stocks were 369 Bcf, or 15.2%, more than the year-ago level of 2.428 Tcf and 103 Bcf, or 3.6%, less than the five-year average of 2.9 Tcf.

The NYMEX Henry Hub September contract fell 1 cent to $2.16/MMBtu following the announcement. The October contract also fell 1.3 cent to $2.16/MMBtu as well. Both the summer and winter contract strips are seemingly stuck in a slump, with a roughly 10 cent mid-August bump leading to prices transacting now at early August levels.

The EIA's Midwest region registered the largest net injection, adding 31 Bcf to 760 Bcf. It is currently the only region trending above its five-year average of 753 Bcf.

The only region to post a withdrawal for the week was the South Central, which subtracted 4 Bcf to 935. This was due to a 9 Bcf drawdown in the salt-dome facilities. Unlike most storage facilities, which are typically installed in depleted oil fields, the salt domes allow for quickly switching from injections to withdrawals. The South Central salt domes currently hold 205 Bcf, which is 19% below the five-year average.

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US Onshore production continued to set new record highs, gaining 0.3 Bcf/d from the Northeast and Southeast week over week, averaging 87.3 Bcf/d for the reference week, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. Warmer temperatures across the Lower 48 softened estimated power burn demand by about 6 Bcf, which was partially offset by a corresponding 2 Bcf gain in residential and commercial demand.

While weekly injections continue to run above average the Mexican government and pipeline operators have reportedly reached an agreement this week that will provide some much-needed southbound export capacity for the oversupplied US gas market and support gas prices through September, according to Platts Analytics.

Platts Analytics' supply and demand model projects a slightly smaller 57 Bcf injection for the week in progress, which would equal the five-year average. Total demand dropped by about 0.8 Bcf/d to average 84.5 Bcf/d, as cooler temperatures drove power burn lower and residential and commercial demand slightly higher.

-- Brandon Evans, bevans@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Joe Fisher, newsdesk@spglobal.com

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