EIA predicts peak US natural gas storage at 3,889 bcf

31 August 2009 21:43  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Monday total US underground natural gas storage could top out at an estimated 3,889bn cubic feet (bcf) this year, an important barometer for future pricing as domestic inventories continue on a track for record-setting levels.

The EIA projected earlier in August that natural gas inventories would reach 3,801 bcf by the end of October, which would fill 97.7% of the agency's storage estimate.

Aggregate US underground storage has never been higher than 3,565 bcf, the EIA said, as the 2009 refill season still has two more months of injections with stocks already at 3,258 bcf as of 21 August.

The total inventory estimate from the EIA was based on a 60-month reporting period ending in April and increased by 2.6% over last year due to the opening of news facilities and expansion of existing operations, the EIA said.

Industry players have been paying close attention to maximum US storage estimations while natural gas stocks remain on track to test domestic storage capacity.

"As storage fields near their maximum capacity, constraints on storage may cause downward pressure on prices paid for current supplies of gas until the winter demand rebalances supply and demand," the EIA said in the statement.

The soaring inventory numbers pushed front-month futures prices below $3/MMBtu for the first time in seven years last week.

October natural gas contracts continued to trade below that plateau on Monday, finishing the session at $2.977/MMBtu.

Natural gas is widely used as a petrochemical feedstock in the US.

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