S&P Global Platts Survey of Analysts Suggests U.S. EIA Data to Show 236-Bcf Draw to Natural Gas Stocks

New York - December 28, 2016

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday is expected to report a 236-billion cubic feet (Bcf) withdrawal for the week that ended December 23, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Global Platts, the leading independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets. Estimates in the survey ranged for a draw of 209 Bcf to 241 Bcf.

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

A 236-Bcf pull would register almost five times larger than the 50-Bcf draw reported at this time in 2015 and nearly three times the five-year average, which is an 80-Bcf withdrawal, according to EIA data.

A draw within analysts’ expectations of 236 Bcf would deplete stocks to 3.361 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). It would flip the storage surplus relative to the five-year average for the first time all year, dragging stocks 78 Bcf below the average. The total would dip 412 Bcf below this time in the corresponding week in 2015. This occurred despite starting the withdrawal season at a record high of 4.047 Tcf.

The pull would also be the largest withdrawal of the heating season by far and the most substantial since a 240-Bcf pull was reported on January 24, 2014. It would only be the third time the EIA ever reported a pull greater than 200 Bcf during the month of December, the others being just the week prior and another on the week ended December 13, 2013.

The withdrawal is forecast to be greater than last week’s announcement, when the EIA reported a 209-Bcf pull that reduced inventories to 3.597 Tcf, which was 5.9% less than the year-ago inventory of 3.823 Tcf, and 2.2% more than the five-year average of 3.519 Tcf.

The EIA’s South Central region is expected to post the most substantial withdrawal.

“Sample withdrawal activity in the South Central salt-dome sample increased dramatically, from a net-withdrawal of 14.3 Bcf the week prior to 29.1 Bcf this week,” said Mitch DeRubis, a quantitative modeling analyst with Platts Analytics, the forecasting and analytics unit of S&P Global Platts. “The gain in strength was spread over many different fields, however, Pine Prairie and Egan saw the largest week-over-week changes in activity, withdrawing 3.9 and 2.4 Bcf more than the previous week, respectively. Meanwhile, Midwest sample withdrawal activity decreased by 1.8 Bcf as temperatures in the area averaged 1.2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the previous week.”

The weekly analyst survey is conducted by S&P Global Platts’ editorial team, and is published every Wednesday, one day ahead of the 10:30 a.m. (ET) Thursday release of the weekly natural gas storage report of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Platts has been conducting this survey since January 2007. The survey includes 15 to 25 analysts, some on a rotational basis.

Note: Bentek Energy, which along with Eclipse Energy Group, formed Platts Analytics. Bentek Energy was acquired by Platts in 2011.
**In its weekly natural gas report, the EIA divides the U.S. into five storage regions: East, Midwest, South Central, Mountain and Pacific. The full listing of the states that comprise each can be found here.
Kathleen Tanzy, + 1 917 331 4607, kathleen.tanzy@spglobal.com

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