November natural gas is expected to open a penny lower Thursday morning at $2.51 as traders anticipate the release of government storage data showing a rising trend in builds with possible record-setting final levels in sight. Overnight oil markets rose.
Figures show that with six weeks remaining in the traditional injection season, 81.5 Bcf would have to be injected weekly to reach a record 4 Tcf, but if November should turn out to feature net injections as well, the figure could go even higher. This week's storage report is right on track, if not more so, to hurdle 4 Tcf. Last year, 110 Bcf was injected, and the five year pace stands at 94 Bcf. Last week, 106 Bcf was injected and caught almost all analysts off guard about 10 Bcf shy of the mark.
This week, the estimates are coming in right around the century mark. Stephen Smith Energy calculates a 98 Bcf build, and Bentek Energy is also looking for 98 Bcf utilizing both its flow model and supply-demand models. A Reuters survey of 21 industry traders and analysts showed an average 100 Bcf with a range of 94 to 110 Bcf.
John Sodergreen, editor of Energy Metro Desk, sees a 100 Bcf build as well but hints this week that the actual figure might come in on the low side.
Weather forecasters see little change in demand until Canadian air makes it way south. "Although, without tapping subfreezing Canadian air, heating demand will be relatively light for this time of year," said Natgasweather.com in a noon update Wednesday. "In addition, the southern U.S. will also experience highs dropping into the 70s, ending cooling demand over many states. We continue to see ways the pattern can still set up quite cold over the northern and eastern U.S. in the second half of October, so we must keep a watchful eye on the growing cold pool over the northern latitudes. Overall, we view weather sentiment as at least somewhat bearish until stronger cold blasts arrive."
Data from the National Weather Service (NWS) also supports the thesis of low energy demand. In its forecast for the week ended Oct. 3, NWS predicts well below normal accumulations of both heating degree days (HDD) and cooling degree days (CDD) for major energy markets. New England is expected to see a combined total of 47 HDD and CDD, or 22 below normal. The Mid-Atlantic will see 38 combined DD, or 19 below its norm, and the greater Midwest from Ohio to Wisconsin should see 47 DDs, or 13 fewer than its seasonal tally.
Projections continue to show Hurricane Joaquin heading up the East Coast and making landfall in North Carolina. Comparisons are being made with Hurricane Sandy and its destructive path.
In overnight Globex trading, November crude oil gained 79 cents to $45.88/bbl and November RBOB gasoline tacked on 3 cents to $1.3997/gal.