Natural gas retreats from one-month high as cold outlook fades

Supply Report

Gas inventories fell 170 trillion cubic feet last week, based on 19 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The five- year average drop for the period is 118 billion and supplies fell by 106 billion a year ago.

U.S. stockpiles totaled 2.4 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Feb. 15, 18 percent above the five-year average for the period, EIA data show. Supplies were down 9.2 percent from a year earlier, when the fourth-warmest winter on record in the lower 48 states crimped demand while production rose to a record.

Production Decline

Frigid weather this week cut gas production in the midcontinent region after water produced as a byproduct of gas output froze, impeded flows. Midcontinent output has fallen by 750 million to 850 million cubic feet a day over two days because of well freeze-offs, said Luke Larson, an analyst with LCI Energy Insight, an energy analysis and consulting firm based in El Paso, Texas.

Larson said production cuts seen this week may not be reflected in the EIA storage report till next week or even the week after.

U.S. marketed gas output will increase 1.1 percent this year to 70.02 billion cubic feet a day, setting a record for the sixth straight year as output from the Marcellus shale formation in the Northeast grows, the Energy Information Administration said in its Short-Term Energy Outlook released Feb. 12 in Washington.

Stockpiles of the fuel may end the heating season in March at about 2 trillion cubic feet, down from 2.477 trillion at the same time last year, according to the monthly report.

The boom in oil and natural gas production helped the U.S. cut its reliance on imported fuel. America met 84 percent of its energy needs in the first 11 months of last year, on pace to be the highest annual level since 1991, EIA data show.

Bloomberg News

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