Natural gas futures overcame an early slide after the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported a modest 13 Bcf injection into storage inventories for the week ending July 30.
After hitting a $4.116/MMBtu low, the September Nymex gas futures contract bounced back to $4.199 as the storage figure crossed trading desks. However, traders failed to maintain the momentum and by 11 a.m. ET the prompt month had slipped to $4.161, up only three-tenths of a cent.
Despite the price pullback, the EIA’s 13 Bcf injection continues to reflect an “uncomfortably tight supply/demand balance,” according to Bespoke Weather Services. This keeps the market on pace for end-of-season inventories below 3,400 Bcf.
[Tune In: Join NGI Price & Markets Editor Leticia Gonzales as she sits down with EIA Energy Economist Stephen York to discuss the recent ramp up in natural gas prices, the fundamentals driving it and where the price might be headed for the upcoming winter. Listen now.]
“Next week’s number will be higher, given cooler weather this week, though may only be marginally looser weather-adjusted,” Bespoke said.
Given rampant export demand, and near triple-digit temperatures across the South Central region, regional inventories declined in both salt and nonsalt facilities. The EIA said salt stocks fell by 19 Bcf, and nonsalt dropped by 3 Bcf.
A participant on The Desk’s online chat Enelyst noted that the 19 Bcf withdrawal in the South Central salt inventories was the largest third quarter salt draw of all time.
The nonsalt draw also surprised. “I didn’t see that draw from nonsalt coming,” said Enelyst managing director Het Shah.
Elsewhere across the country, Pacific stocks also slipped by 2 Bcf amid ongoing heat and low hydroelectric power in the region. East inventories climbed 21 Bcf, and the Midwest added 17 Bcf.
Total working gas in storage as of July 30 was 2,727 Bcf, which is 542 Bcf below year-ago levels and 185 Bcf below the five-year average, according to EIA.
Looking ahead to the next few reports, Bespoke said next week is expected to usher in the hottest weather of the summer, but stronger winds should result in a higher injection than the 13 Bcf recorded for the July 30 week.
Beyond the next EIA report, some early estimates are pointing to the possibility of a single-digit build. “All in all, the backdrop remains quite supportive, given where current levels of supply sit,” Bespoke said.
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