Denver — US natural gas in storage increased 60 Bcf to 2.857 Tcf for the week ended August 23, the US Energy Information Administration reported Thursday morning.
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The injection was more than an S&P Global Platts' survey of analysts calling for a 57 Bcf injection. Wider responses to the survey ranged from 53 Bcf to 60 Bcf.
The build was less than the 66 Bcf injection reported during the corresponding week in 2018 but more than the five-year-average injection of 57 Bcf, according to EIA data. It marked the largest injection since the week ended July 26.
As a result, stocks were 363 Bcf, or nearly 15%, above the year-ago level of 2.494 Tcf and 100 Bcf, or about 3%, below the five-year average of 2.957 Tcf.
The NYMEX Henry Hub October contract dipped about 1 cent immediately after the report's release but edged up in afternoon trading to settle at $2.30/MMBtu, or about 5 cents higher day on day.
The US supply-demand balance tightened about 400 MMcf/d during the week ended August 23, thanks largely to gains in LNG feedgas demand and an uptick in gas-fired electric generation.
An apparent end to maintenance at Cheniere Energy's Sabine Pass liquefaction facility helped lift total US feedgas demand by 1 Bcf/d last week. Power burn demand also climbed 600 MMcf/d, led mostly by warmer temperatures in the US Northeast.
On the supply side, relatively flat domestic output last week was bolstered by a 500 MMcf/d uptick in gas imports from Canada, largely concentrated in the Northeast.
For the week in progress, Platts Analytics' supply-demand model is forecasting another bearish injection of 72 Bcf, which would outpace the 64 Bcf injection reported during the corresponding week last year, as well as the five-year-average injection of 66 Bcf.
The most recent seasonal forecast, now calling for end-October storage levels to reach 3.5 Tcf, could see some downside risk, though, as export demand for US gas continues to ramp up.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed publicly Tuesday that the federal government and state-owned power generator CFE had reached an settlement agreement with pipeline developers Grupo Carso, IEnova and TC Energy that could see the long-awaited 2.6 Bcf/d Sur de Texas-Tuxpan pipeline enter service soon.
Upon startup, Platts Analytics expects that US gas exports to Mexico could quickly rise about 500 MMcf/d and potentially by as much as 1 Bcf/d, depending reconfiguration at Cempoala -- a key compressor station along Mexico's central coast that will help move gas into the country's southeast.
Adding to the potential growth in pipeline exports, the steady ramp-up of US LNG export capacity is forecast to lift US feedgas demand to nearly 8 Bcf/d by December, Platts Analytics data shows.
Currently, all six of the US' first-wave export facilities are now producing LNG. The looming startup of commercial service at Cameron LNG Train 1, Elba Island Trains 1-6 and Freeport LNG Train 1, should drive most of the anticipated gain in feedgas demand over the balance of this year.
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