S&P Global Platts Survey of Analysts Suggests U.S. EIA Data to Show 27-Bcf Draw to Natural Gas Stocks

WASHINGTON - April 04, 2018

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday is expected to report a 27-billion cubic feet (Bcf) withdrawal for the week that ended March 30, 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 were tight and ranged for a withdrawal of 23 Bcf to 32 Bcf. The EIA plans to release its weekly storage report at 10:30 am EDT on Thursday.

While a 27 Bcf draw would be much more than the 4 Bcf withdrawal reported at this time in 2017 it would be align with the five-year average pull of 28 Bcf.

A withdrawal within analysts’ expectations of 27 Bcf would deplete stocks to 1.356 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The deficit versus the five-year average would shift slightly to 344 Bcf and the deficit versus last year in the corresponding week would expand to 694 Bcf.

The EIA reported a 63 Bcf draw for the week ended March 23. It dropped inventories to 1.383 Tcf, which was 32.7% less than the year-ago inventory of 2.055 Tcf, and 20% less than the five-year average of 1.729 Tcf.

"The US warmed up more than 3 degrees week over week, particularly in the South Central region and along the East region,” said Kent Berthoud, storage analyst with S&P Global Platts. "Last week saw a continuation of almost exactly offsetting errors in the South Central and Midwest regions, likely due to the imperfect mapping of EIA to Cell Regions. As a result, this week's estimate is continuing to offset the upside and downside risks in each region respectively. That being said, there is considerable uncertainty in the South Central, whose model outputs varied by as much as 10 Bcf."

S&P Global Platts Analytics expects the South Central region to post a 12 Bcf gain. Meanwhile, the East and Midwest regions will account for nearly all of the net-withdrawal activity.

Even though the next storage announcement typically becomes the switch to injection season, multiple analysts expect up to two more weeks of small withdrawals before the flip.

An early forecast for the week ending April 6 expects a 1 Bcf withdrawal, according to Platts Analytics. Over the last five years, the week ending April 6 has averaged a 9 Bcf injection, according to EIA data.

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. 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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