Platts Pre-report Survey of Analysts Suggests U.S. EIA Data will Show an Addition to Natural Gas Stocks of 75 Bcf to 79 Bcf

Government shutdown delays indefinitely the release of U.S. natural gas statistics

Washington - October 16, 2013

A Platts survey of analysts suggests a net addition to natural gas storage of 75 billion cubic feet (Bcf) to 79 Bcf for the reporting week ended October 11. However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is unable to report its weekly natural gas storage data on Thursday due to a lapse in budget appropriations and the ongoing U.S. government shutdown. It is unclear when EIA will release its data.

A build within that range would compare with a 54-Bcf net injection for the comparable week last year and the five-year-average addition of 75 Bcf, according to historical EIA data. As a result, the 138-Bcf deficit to last year should shrink, while the 55-Bcf surplus to the five-year average should expand slightly.

EIA estimated a 90-Bcf injection for the week ended October 4, lifting overall stocks to 3.577 trillion cubic feet.

The wider range of analysts’ expectations for the week ended October 11 spanned from injections of 70 Bcf to 90 Bcf.

Bentek Energy's supply/demand model predicts a 74-Bcf injection for the week ended October 11, while its pipeline flow model anticipates a 70-Bcf addition. Bentek is the natural gas and oil analytics unit of Platts, acquired in 2011.

UBS analyst William Featherston said weather the week ended October 11 was 58% warmer than last year and 30% warmer than the five-year average. He estimated that, during the past month, the market has been 700,000 million cubic feet per day (/d) oversupplied compared with the five-year average, and 2.3 Bcf/d oversupplied versus year-ago levels.

Citi Futures Perspective analyst Tim Evans expects the storage surplus over the five-year average should work its way from 55 Bcf to 66 Bcf by November 1.

"This suggests that while seasonal demand is rising and storage injections are tapering off toward an eventual start of net withdrawals, the market is not actually becoming tighter on a seasonally adjusted basis that would better support a persistent uptrend in price," he said.

Analysts with EcomEnergy projected that trading volumes for the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) natural gas futures contract will be low in the absence of the weekly EIA data and price moves should be minimal. They expect the contract could remain range-bound between $3.68 and $3.86 per million British thermal units in the meantime.

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