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US natural gas in storage set to increase by 109 Bcf: survey

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Surplus to five-year average to hit 21 Bcf

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Denver — US working gas in underground storage likely posted another triple-digit addition last week, with above-average builds forecast to continue into October.

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The US Energy Information Administration is expected to report a 109-Bcf injection for the week ended September 27, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Global Platts. Responses to the survey ranged for a build of 93 Bcf to 115 Bcf. The last two injections reported by the EIA were above market expectations by an average of 8.5 Bcf.

A 109-Bcf injection would be more than the 91 Bcf added in the corresponding week last year, as well as above the five-year average of 83 Bcf. It would be the largest build for the week since 2014, when a 111-Bcf addition was reported for the last full week in September, according to EIA data.

An injection within expectations would increase stocks to 3.314 Tcf. The deficit versus the five-year average would decrease to 21 Bcf and the surplus to last year would expand to 462 Bcf.

The build looks to be even more than the week prior, when the EIA reported a 102-Bcf injection, for the week ended September 20.

On Thursday, the EIA will likely report an even stronger triple-digit natural gas injection into storage as falling power-burn demand in the Southeast US frees up additional supplies, according to S&P Global Platts Analytics. Inventories will likely keep growing well above the five-year average straight through October, before residential and commercial heating demand ramps up in November. This increased demand should provide some relief to the over-supplied US natural gas market.

Temperatures across the Midwest and South Central regions reduced power-burn demand by an estimated 14 Bcf. Volatility in modeled estimates have increased significantly in the run up to October. The range in model outputs saw the widest range of potential estimates since the winter, with the risk of a much stronger injection in the South Central salt-dome facilities offset by the risk for weaker injections in the EIA's East and Midwest regions, according to Platts Analytics.

Demand was also dampened by annual maintenance at Dominion Energy's Cove Point LNG terminal, which reduced feedgas deliveries by 750 MMcf/d.

According to forecasts, working gas capacity in storage is expected to surpass the five-year average by the week ending October 18.

NYMEX Henry Hub winter futures continues to tumble. The November contract was trading 6 cents lower than Monday's close at $2.27/MMBtu during Tuesday afternoon trading. The entire winter strip, spanning from November through March, averaged $2.47/MMBtu.

The EIA plans to release its weekly storage report on Thursday at 10:30 am EDT.

-- Brandon Evans, bevans@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Derek Sands, newsdesk@spglobal.com