US natgas stocks within 4% of total storage after 18 bcf fill

22 October 2009 17:53  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Thursday that domestic natural gas storage increased by 18bn cubic feet (bcf) last week, well below the five-year average for this time of year but enough to bring cumulative inventories within 4% of projected total underground capacity.

Aggregate stocks hit 3,734 bcf in the week ended 16 October, with at least two more injection weeks remaining to test the EIA's estimated 3,889 bcf total storage capacity.

Total gas storage for the week of 16 October was 169 bcf higher than the previous record-high fill of 3,565 bcf that the EIA recorded at the end of October 2007.

Last week's swath of cold weather that blew through the US northeast pared analysts' outlooks for storage builds to an average of about 19 bcf, compared with the five-year average of 52 bcf.

The flat injection number compared with industry ideas kept NYMEX futures prices relatively neutral. November contracts had been trading in positive territory, but turned downward by around 6 cents at $5.038/MMBtu.

December contracts were down by about 10 cents at $5.690/MMBtu.

US natural gas futures have gained strength since the start of the month, with traders looking forward to increased winter heating demand. Futures broke the $5 mark on 20 October for the first time since January.

Natural gas futures are a bellwether for chemical commodity prices because of their wide use as a feedstock and power supply.

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By: Ryan Hickman
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