U.S. utilities could inject lots of natgas into storage in November
U.S. utilities could inject natural gas into storage in November for the first time since 2011, according to analyst projections, cutting the vast storage deficit that exists versus normal levels for this time of year. Utilities and others could stockpile a record 111 billion cubic feet (bcf) of gas in storage during November, according to a report from IHS Markit OPIS PointLogic.
That compares with a withdrawal of 107 bcf during the same month last year and a five-year (2013-2017) average decline for November of 106 bcf, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Thomson Reuters data.
In November 2011, utilities added 39 bcf into inventories. The biggest increase for the month of November was 110 bcf in 2001, according to EIA data going back to 1997. In its latest Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), EIA, meanwhile, forecast utilities would withdraw a total of 7 bcf in November. OPIS PointLogic said it expects as many as three weeks of injections through the week ending Nov. 22, noting, “there is enough variability in weather in the out weeks of November that there is some downside risk to this level of storage injection activity.”
There was 3.095 trillion cubic feet of gas in storage on Oct. 19, the most recent data available from EIA, which was 16.8 percent below the five-year average (2013-2017) of 3.719 tcf for that time of year. Analysts polled by Reuters forecast the total amount of gas in storage will reach around 3.2 tcf by the end of October. If that is correct and utilities add the 111 bcf to stockpiles during November that OPIS PointLogic projected, the inventory deficit would fall to 10 percent below normal by the start of December.
Analysts, however, have noted it is getting tougher to project inventory levels because there have been a lot more moving parts this year than in the recent past. Production is at a record high and is still growing. Gas exports are also at a record high and are growing via liquefied natural gas shipments to the world and by pipeline to Mexico and Canada. At the same time, the electric and industrial sectors are expected to burn record amounts of gas in 2019, according to federal projections.
The following table shows the actual monthly increase or decrease in U.S. gas storage during November in billion cubic feet, according to data from the U.S. EIA and Reuters, and OPIS PointLogic’s forecast for the month this year:
Year 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 November change +111 -107.2 -36.1 -15.5 -160.4 -211.7 -130.1 +39.1 -81.7 +27.5 -53.5
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Scott DiSavino Editing by James Dalgleish)