U.S. natural-gas supplies increased by less than the seasonal average last week amid higher demand from power plants compared with last year, according to analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.
Inventories expanded by 73 billion cubic feet, or 2 percent, to 3.649 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Sept. 28, based on the median of 19 estimates. The five-year average increase for the week is 78 billion and supplies rose by 101 billion during the same period last year.
The stockpile estimates ranged from increases of 55 billion to 81 billion cubic feet. The Energy Department’s weekly inventory report is scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.
Temperatures were above normal in most of the western half of the U.S. and normal in the rest of the lower 48 states last week, said MDA EarthSat Weather in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Inventory injections tend to rise this time of the year, between the summer cooling and winter heating seasons. Gas demand is being buoyed by power generators burning record amount of the fuel instead of costlier coal in many regions.
“We are having pretty mild weather,” said Aaron Calder, senior market analyst at Gelber & Associates in Houston. “There is a lot more gas being burned for electricity generation this year than last year,” and that’s keeping inventories from reaching storage limits.
Natural gas for October delivery fell 13.6 cents, or 3.9 percent to settle at $3.395 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are up 14 percent this year.
Total gas consumption averaged 57.8 billion cubic feet in the week ended Sept. 28, up 2 percent from the previous week’s average of 56.7 billion, according to LCI Energy Insight, an energy analysis and consulting company in El Paso, Texas.
Demand from electricity generators, which peaks in the third quarter, averaged 24.7 billion cubic feet a day last week, LCI data show. That’s down 0.1 percent from the week ended Sept. 21 but almost 11 percent higher than a year earlier.
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