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Markets

US natgas futures rise to 5-week high on small storage build

  • The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said US utilities added 61 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended April 9.
  • That is lower than the 67-bcf build analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and compares with an increase of 68 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average increase of 26 bcf.
15 Apr 2021

US natural gas futures turned positive and rose to a five-week high on Thursday on a slightly smaller than expected weekly storage build and near record liquefied natural gas (LNG) and pipeline exports.

That price increase came despite forecasts for less cold weather through the end of April than previously expected.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said US utilities added 61 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended April 9.

That is lower than the 67-bcf build analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and compares with an increase of 68 bcf in the same week last year and a five-year (2016-2020) average increase of 26 bcf.

Last week's injection boosted stockpiles to 1.845 trillion cubic feet (tcf), or 0.6% above the five-year average of 1.834 tcf for this time of year. That was the first time the amount of gas in storage rose over the five-year average since before the February freeze hit Texas and the rest of the central United States.

Front-month gas futures rose 3.2 cents, or 1.2%, to $2.650 per million British thermal units at 10:44 a.m. EDT (1444 GMT), putting the contract on track for its highest close since March 11.

Before EIA released the storage report, the front-month was down 0.1%.

Data provider Refinitiv said gas output in the lower 48 US states averaged 91.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in April, up from 91.6 bcfd in March but still well below the record monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November 2019.

Refinitiv projected average gas demand, including exports, would rise from 91.9 bcfd this week to 94.9 bcfd next week as the weather cools. Those demand forecasts were higher than Refinitiv projected on Wednesday due to increasing exports.

The amount of gas flowing to US LNG export plants averaged 11.0 bcfd so far in April, which would top March's monthly record of 10.8 bcfd.

Analysts, however, said they do not expect LNG feedgas to break March's record in April because flows were expected to decline this month due to planned work on a couple of facilities and the pipelines serving them, including Cheniere Energy Inc's Corpus Christi facility in Texas and Cameron LNG's plant in Louisiana.

US pipeline exports to Mexico have averaged 6.02 bcfd so far in April, up from 5.86 bcfd in March and close to the monthly record of 6.04 bcfd in September 2020, Refinitiv found.