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Markets

US natural gas futures fall 3pc on big storage build, lower demand

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said utilities injected 109 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into sto
28 May 2020
  • The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said utilities injected 109 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended May 22.
  • The increase boosted stockpiles to 2.612 trillion cubic feet (tcf), 19.3% above the five-year average of 2.189 tcf for this time of year.

US natural gas futures fell about 3% on Thursday on a bigger-than-usual weekly storage build and forecasts for lower demand and exports than previously expected.

The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said utilities injected 109 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas into storage during the week ended May 22.

That was slightly higher than the 107-bcf build analysts forecast in a Reuters poll and compared with an increase of 110 bcf during the same week last year and a five-year (2015-19) average build of 93 bcf for the period.

The increase boosted stockpiles to 2.612 trillion cubic feet (tcf), 19.3% above the five-year average of 2.189 tcf for this time of year.

On its first day as the front-month, gas futures for the most actively traded July contract fell 5.9 cents, or 3.1%, to settle at $1.827 per million British thermal units. Even though the July futures were down from the close in the prior session, the contract was still up about 6% from where the June contract expired on Wednesday when it was the front-month.

Looking ahead, futures for the balance of 2020 and calendar 2021 were trading about 22% and 45% over the front-month, respectively, on expectations the US economy will snap back as governments lift coronavirus-linked travel restrictions.

Data provider Refinitiv said average gas output in the US Lower 48 states fell to 89.3 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) so far in May, down from an eight-month low of 92.9 bcfd in April and an all-time monthly high of 95.4 bcfd in November.

Refinitiv slightly reduced its demand projections for the next two weeks, including exports, to 78.4 bcfd from 78.5 bcfd on Wednesday due to slightly milder weather forecasts.