The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Wednesday reported a withdrawal of 18 Bcf from natural gas storage for the week ended Nov. 20, led by a relatively large pull in the East. The result was roughly on par with expectations set by major polls, and Nymex natural gas futures rebounded on the news.
Ahead of the report Wednesday, the December contract was down 3.1 cents at $2.744/MMBtu. However, the prompt month recovered to around $2.756 when the EIA data was released at noon ET. By around 12:25 p.m., the December contract climbed to $2.791 and was up 1.6 cents.
While liquefied natural gas export volumes were strong during the covered week, weather-driven demand was relatively light, keeping the pull below norms for this time of year.
“It was warmer than normal over the western two thirds of the U.S. and near normal over the East” during the covered period, said NatGasWeather, which had predicted 20 Bcf decrease for the week.
A year earlier, EIA recorded a 47 Bcf withdrawal for the similar week, and the five-year average is a decrease of 37 Bcf. The weekly storage report was issued a day earlier than normal because of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Prior to the report, a Bloomberg survey landed at a median 19 Bcf decrease, though estimates ranged from a withdrawal of 47 Bcf to a build of 35 Bcf. Reuters’ poll found estimates spanning a withdrawal of 47 Bcf to an injection of 33 Bcf, with a median decrease of 21 Bcf.
A survey conducted by the Wall Street Journal found analysts, on average, estimating storage levels declined by 8 Bcf. Forecasts varied from a withdrawal of 47 Bcf to an increase of 36 Bcf.
NGI’s model predicted a 35 Bcf pull from underground stocks.
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Wednesday’s report marked a return to withdrawals, following a pair of bearish reports earlier in the month. EIA reported an injection of 31 Bcf into gas stockpiles for the week ended Nov. 13 and an increase of 8 Bcf for the week ended Nov. 6. The agency had reported the first pull of autumn for the final full week of October.
“It definitely continues the theme of a looser market relative to what we had been seeing, especially in October, but the overall picture, in our view, remains supportive in the event we avoid jumping back warm in the weather pattern as we move forward,” Bespoke Weather Services said.
The withdrawal decreased inventories to 3,940 Bcf, which was above the year-earlier level of 3,618 Bcf and above the five-year average of 3,690 Bcf.
The East and Midwest led all other regions with decreases of 19 Bcf and 6 Bcf, respectively, according to EIA. The South Central posted a build of 6 Bcf, the result of a 6 Bcf injection into salt facilities and flat nonsalt stocks. Mountain and Pacific region stocks each increased by 1 Bcf.
EIA noted that totals – as was the case in the latest data — may not equal the sum of components because of independent rounding.
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