S&P Global Platts Survey of Analysts Suggests U.S. EIA Data to Show 12-Bcf Draw to Natural Gas Stocks

WASHINGTON - April 25, 2018

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) on Thursday is expected to report a 12-billion cubic feet (Bcf) withdrawal for the week that ended April 20, 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 7 Bcf to 17 Bcf. The EIA plans to release its weekly storage report at 10:30 am EST on Thursday.

A 12 Bcf draw would be very bullish compared to last year in the corresponding week which featured a 71 Bcf injection and the five-year average build of 60 Bcf. It would also be the latest net withdrawal on record for the heating season.

A withdrawal within analysts’ expectations of 12 Bcf would deplete stocks to 1.287 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). The deficit versus the five-year average would grow to 521 Bcf and the deficit versus last year in the corresponding week would expand to 891 Bcf.

The EIA reported a 36 Bcf net-withdrawal for the week ended April 13. It dropped inventories to 1.299 Tcf, which was 38.3% less than the year-ago inventory of 2.107 Tcf, and 25.7% less than the five-year average of 1.748 Tcf.

"The relatively cold April continues to eat away at inventories, with another 16-BCF-withdrawal expected for the latest reporting week driven by the Midwest region,” said Kent Berthoud, storage analyst with S&P Global Platts. "While inventories are not at record lows, the extended withdrawal season and additional demand load since the previous record-low puts additional pressure on what already looks like a tighter stocks level than we typically see at this time.”

Population-weighted temperatures across the US increased 1.5 degrees week over week. Although the East, Midwest and South Central storage regions experienced slight warming, temperatures there remained 6 or 7 degrees below normal, pushing withdrawal season for the US two weeks further than has historically occurred.

Expectations for the week ending April 27 point to the first net injection of the year. Early estimates call for an injection of 48 to 58 Bcf.

During the injection season, stocks currently need to replace 2.549 Tcf to reach the five-year average of 3.848 Tcf for the start of the next heating season. Last year storage added 1.737 Tcf during injection season. Over the past five injection seasons stocks have increased by an average of 2.147 Tcf.

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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