US natural gas storage posts near-record pull, futures down

14 January 2010 17:02  [Source: ICIS news]

Natgas reserves draw downHOUSTON (ICIS news)--Underground storage of US natural gas was depleted by 266bn cubic feet (bcf) last week, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported on Thursday, a near record pull from storage but not enough to increase futures prices.

Total natural gas stockpiles in the US were at 2,852 bcf in the week ended 8 January, down from a revised total of 3,118 bcf the previous week.

Last week's draw was close to the record pull of 274 bcf in the week of 25 January 2008.

Analysts had been targeting a hefty delivery number leading up to the report following a snap of cold weather last week that included rare freezes in the US Gulf Coast region.

"The Edison Electric Institute reported a 15% surge in demand from the Grid last week to 88,483 gigawatt hours [GWhrs]," Stephen Schork wrote in his energy newsletter The Schork Report. "Demand in the southeast spiked 29% to 27,359 GWhrs. That is the largest amount of molecules ever transmitted, summer or winter."

Delivery forecasts ranged from just under 200bcf to as high as the 280s bcf with most averages in the mid-250s bcf.

The anticipated draw did not spur confidence in natural gas on the NYMEX. At 11:00 New York time (16:00 GMT), the February natural gas contract was trading at $5.562/MMBtu, a loss of 17.1 cents from Wednesday's close.

Michael Rose, director of trading at brokerage firm Angus Jackson in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, explained that domestic use of natural gas makes up a small fraction of the fuel's usage.

"Home heating is only a fragment of the use of natural gas. Even if everyone cranked up their heat, there is only so much demand in heating," Rose said. "Without industrial demand, there is no hope for natural gas to go higher."

Natural gas pricing dictates chemical commodity values with the fuel's extensive use as a power supply and raw material.

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