The Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported another 59 Bcf withdrawal from natural gas storage inventories, this time for the week ending Dec. 3.
The pull was in line with consensus, leaving natural gas traders largely unimpressed. Futures prices had waffled in and out of positive territory early Thursday, and the January Nymex contract was off only seven-tenths of a cent at $3.808/MMBtu ahead of the EIA report.
As the print crossed trading desks, the prompt month popped up to $3.836, but by 11 a.m. ET it was back at $3.796, down 1.9 cents.
Speaking on The Desk’s online energy chat Enelyst, managing director Het Shah said, “Not much price action. Traders must be exhausted.”
Indeed, after two weeks of large price swings, mostly to the downside, the gas market may be asking Santa for a bit of stability this holiday season.
Bespoke Weather Services said the EIA’s 59 Bcf draw reflects balances that remain “rather tight.” In a morning note to clients, the firm said power burns have been solid when adjusted for weather.
The latest draw pointed to Bespoke’s model at an end-of-season storage level under 1,500 Bcf, assuming normal weather beyond day 15. However, the end-March estimate is subject to moving higher, “if this warmer pattern persists.”
Ahead of the EIA report, a Reuters survey showed withdrawal estimates ranging from 36 Bcf to 64 Bcf, with a median pull of 53 Bcf. A Bloomberg survey of seven analysts produced a tighter range of withdrawal projections, with a median draw of 60 Bcf. NGI also modeled a 60 Bcf decrease in inventories.
In the year-earlier period, EIA recorded a 78 Bcf withdrawal from storage, while the five-year average draw is 55 Bcf.
Broken down by region, East and Midwest inventories fell by 24 Bcf each, according to EIA. The South Central recorded a 14 Bcf net pull, including a 7 Bcf draw from salts and a 9 Bcf draw from nonsalts. The Pacific region posted a 3 Bcf increase in storage, while Mountain stocks stayed the same.
Total working gas in storage as of Dec. 3 stood at 3,505 Bcf, which is 356 Bcf below year-ago levels and 90 Bcf below the five-year average, EIA said.
EIA senior market analyst Chris Peterson noted the improving supply picture on the Enelyst chat. “So dry gas is at 94-95 Bcf…3,500-plus Bcf in early December and more warm weather coming. Could be worse.”
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