S&P Global Platts Survey of Analysts Suggests U.S. EIA Data to Show 100-Bcf Draw to Natural Gas Stocks

WASHINGTON - March 14, 2018

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday is expected to report a 100-billion cubic feet (Bcf) withdrawal for the week that ended March 9, according to a survey of analysts by S&P Global Platts, the leading independent provider of information and benchmark prices for the commodities and energy markets.

Responses to the survey ranged for a withdrawal of 86 Bcf to 107 Bcf. The EIA plans to release its weekly storage report at 10:30 am EDT on Thursday.

A 100 Bcf draw would be bullish compared to the 57 Bcf withdrawal reported at this time in 2017 but in line with the five-year average pull of 97 Bcf.

A withdrawal within analysts’ expectations of 100 Bcf would deplete stocks to 1.525 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The deficit versus the five-year average would expand slightly to 303 Bcf and the deficit versus last year in the corresponding week would grow to 725 Bcf.

The expected withdrawal is to be much stronger than the 57 Bcf draw reported by the EIA for the week ended March 2. It dropped inventories to 1.625 Tcf, which was 29.5% less than the year-ago inventory of 2.305 Tcf, and 15.6% less than the five-year average of 1.925 Tcf. It was also the third consecutive draw which came in well below the five-year average.

Population-weighted temperatures for the Lower 48 dropped 2 degrees week over week, with another burst of cold in the East and Midwest being offset somewhat by warming in the Mountain and the Pacific regions.

“The East region is forecasted to withdraw 48 Bcf, which is 12 Bcf above the five-year max withdrawal for corresponding historical reports,” said Kent Berthoud, storage analyst with S&P Global Platts. “Big withdrawals seen on Dominion Transmission and Columbia Gas Transmission systems, coupled with bullish error-adjustments, placed the final East estimate towards the high end of the modeled output.”

Slackened demand in the Rockies Cell region was partially offset by lower outbound flows, but the estimated 5 Bcf pull for the EIA Mountain region will keep inventory levels 1 Bcf less than the five-year minimums.

The South Central salt-dome storage inventories continue their impressive rebound from the record lows seen at the beginning of the year, along with a more moderate recovery in the non-salt sample. Salt inventories in the sample are at around 45% capacity, with Southern Star Central storage system pushing to a historically low 6%.

The weekly analyst survey is conducted by S&P Global Platts’ editorial team, and is published every Wednesday, one day ahead of the 10:30 a.m. (ET) Thursday release of the weekly natural gas storage report of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. S&P Global Platts has been conducting this survey since January 2007. The survey includes 15 to 25 analysts, some on a rotational basis.

**In its weekly natural gas report, the EIA divides the U.S. into five storage regions: East, Midwest, South Central, Mountain and Pacific. The full listing of the states that comprise each can be found here.

Kathleen Tanzy, + 1 917 331 4607, kathleen.tanzy@spglobal.com

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