Denver — US natural gas stocks increased mainly in line with analysts' expectations at about half the five-year average build, and Henry Hub futures showed mixed results following the release of the storage report as a power outage at an LNG terminal could slow export demand recovery during September.
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Storage inventories increased by 35 Bcf to 3.455 Tcf for the week ended Aug. 28, a US Energy Information Administration report showed Sept. 3.
The injection was barely more than an S&P Global Platts survey of analysts calling for a 34 Bcf build. Responses to the survey ranged from an injection of 27 Bcf to 48 Bcf. The injection measured less than the 77 Bcf build reported during the same week last year as well as the five-year average gain of 66 Bcf, according to EIA data.
Storage volumes stood at 538 Bcf, or 18.4% more than the year-ago level of 2.917 Tcf, and 407 Bcf, or 13.4% more than the five-year average of 3.048 Tcf.
The NYMEX Henry Hub October contract added 5 cents to $2.54/MMBtu in trading following the release of the weekly storage report. However, the winter strip of November through March fell by 1 cent to average at $3.22/MMBtu.
The S&P Global Platts Analytics supply and demand model currently forecasts a 60 Bcf injection for the week ending Sept. 4. This would lower the surplus to the five-year average by 8 Bcf as about 10 net injections remain before the flip to the winter withdrawal season. Inventories are predicted to peak at 3.864 Tcf before net withdrawals begin in November.
Gulf of Mexico production and LNG feedgas demand have both started recovering during the week in progress. Offshore production has started to rebound from near-zero to 700 MMcf/d, following almost entirely shutting in 2.2 Bcf/d last week due to Hurricane Laura.
However, feedgas demand recovery at the Cameron LNG export terminal looks to be delayed due to widespread power grid damage in Louisiana from the hurricane.
Total supplies are down 800 MMcf/d week over week, mainly driven by reduced net Canadian imports after onshore and offshore production saw similar offsetting moves. Downstream, total demand has fallen by more than 5 Bcf/d on the week, with the vast majority of that coming from reduced power burn demand, and bolstered by a second consecutive 900 MMcf/d drop in LNG feedgas demand.
As damage assessments roll in following Hurricane Laura on the US Gulf Coast, power generation and transmission have been affected across much of Southwest Louisiana, threatening a speedy recovery at the 1.8 Bcf/d Cameron LNG export facility. Furthermore, draft restrictions along the Calcasieu Waterway remain in effect, preventing roughly 94% of the current LNG vessel fleet from reaching the facility.
Initial service will prioritize other transmission facilities, along with critical community infrastructure such as hospitals, utilities and public safety, suggesting the Cameron LNG facility could be without power for up to three weeks. Platts Analytics estimates an extended outage at Cameron LNG could cut US exports upwards of 700 MMcf/d in September.