WASHINGTON (January 24, 2018) – The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday is expected to report a 272-billion cubic feet (Bcf) withdrawal for the week that ended January 19, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Global Platts, the leading independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets.
Responses to the survey ranged for a withdrawal of 259 Bcf to 279 Bcf. The EIA plans to release its weekly storage at 10:30 am EDT on Thursday.
A 279 Bcf draw would be much more than the 137 Bcf withdrawal reported at this time in 2017 as well as the five-year average pull of 164 Bcf. A draw that size would register as the fourth largest, following the record-breaking withdrawal earlier this month and two weeks from winter 2013-14.
A withdrawal within analysts' expectations of 272 Bcf would deplete stocks to 2.312 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The deficit versus the five-year average would move to 469 Bcf and the deficit versus last year in the corresponding week would expand to 502 Bcf.
The expected withdrawal is bullish compared to the 183 Bcf draw reported by the EIA for the week ended January 12. It dropped inventories to 2.584 Tcf, which was 12.5% less than the year-ago inventory of 2.952 Tcf, and 12.3% less than the five-year average of 2.946 Tcf.
“The largest change in storage activity week over is expected to have occurred in the South Central region, where a withdrawal of 118 Bcf is estimated compared to an EIA-announced withdrawal of 56 Bcf the week prior,” said Mitch DeRubis, a quantitative modeling analyst with Platts Analytics, the forecasting and analytics unit of S&P Global Platts. “The Midwest and East regions are also expected to withdrawal a significantly higher amount of gas than the previous week, with the Midwest forecast at an 81 Bcf pull compared to 61 Bcf draw the week prior, and an East forecast for a 59 Bcf withdrawal compared to a 50 Bcf draw the week prior.”
Month-to-date total US demand has averaged 104.9 Bcf/d compared to 90.9 Bcf/d in January 2017. Residential and commercial demand and power burn make up the bulk of the increase at 8.3 Bcf/d and 4.3 Bcf/d, respectively.
The market has taken note as the NYMEX February natural gas futures contract surpassed $3.50/MMBtu on Wednesday morning. The prompt-month contract has not closed that high since December 2016. The highest it closed throughout all of 2017 was at $2.42/MMBtu on May 12.
The weekly analyst survey is conducted by S&P Global Platts' editorial team, and is published every Wednesday, one day ahead of the 10:30 a.m. (ET) Thursday release of the weekly natural gas storage report of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Platts has been conducting this survey since January 2007. The survey includes 15 to 25 analysts, some on a rotational basis.
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