March natural gas is set to open a penny higher Thursday morning at $2.06 before of an inventory report that is expected to show usage of about half normal levels. Overnight oil markets fell.
February storage is always tricky, said John Sodergreen, editor of Energy Metro Desk (EMD). "We see a low baller bias this week, upper-mid-to-late-70s [Bcf] should be right. Our bank analyst category had a median forecast of -76 Bcf, and the independent analyst category was at -78 Bcf. The pattern in EIA reports over the past couple months against weather HDD patterns shows a hi; lo; lo; hi sort of pattern. That said, this week is due a low baller. As we were saying... Not terribly scientific."
The EMD GWDD model shows a big drop in the NGWDD index this week down to only 146 from 190 the previous week. "This was the warmest week since December when 126 NGWDD resulted in a 56 Bcf draw Christmas week. We are expecting an 83 Bcf draw as there was no holiday last week and the 20 additional degree days usually delivers more than 20 additional Bcf of demand," Sodergreen said.
The EMD model predicts an 83 Bcf pull, but the EMD survey resulted in an average 80 Bcf draw.
Last year 154 Bcf was withdrawn, and the five-year pace stands at 167 Bcf. ICAP Energy calculates a 77 Bcf withdrawal, and Citi Futures Perspective is looking for a 98 Bcf decline. A Reuters survey of 23 traders and analysts revealed an average -82 Bcf with a range from -70 to -105 Bcf.
Weather forecasts overnight drifted warmer. WSI Corp. in its Thursday morning report said, "[Thursday's] six-10 day forecast depicts a warming trend and widespread above average temperatures. Anomalies are forecast to range 5-15+ across the Rockies and central U.S. Today's forecast is generally a bit colder over the Upper Midwest to the Northeast, but a bit warmer elsewhere. CONUS GWHDDs are up 0.4 and are forecast to be 104.7 for the period. Forecast confidence is average today as models are in reasonably good agreement with a moderating trend and pattern shift.
"However, there remain differences with the timing and details with frontal systems. The details with frontal systems are key, but a prevailing eastern U.S. trough supports a slight risk to the cooler side early in the period. The West Coast also has a slight downside risk."
In overnight Globex trading March crude oil dropped 89 cents to $26.56/bbl and March RBOB gasoline fell 2 cents to $0.9198/gal.