U.S. Natural Gas Stockpiles Probably Fell 2.3%, Analysts Say

U.S. natural-gas supplies probably fell by less than the seasonal average last week as mild weather in the Northeast reduced heating-fuel demand, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Inventories dropped 90 billion cubic feet, or 2.3 percent, to 3.741 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Dec. 9, based on the median of 16 estimates. The five-year average change for the week is a decrease of 142 billion, according data from the Energy Department, whose weekly supply report is due tomorrow. Stockpiles fell 164 billion the same week last year.

Demand for heat in the Northeast trailed normal by 29 percent in the week ended Dec. 10, according to Weather Derivatives. Furnace use across the U.S. trailed normal by 1 percent, the Belton, Missouri-based forecaster said.

“Mother Nature has not been bullish since September,” said Kyle Cooper, director of research with IAF Advisors in Houston, who estimates stockpiles rose 88 billion cubic feet. “We’re still building on a storage surplus and prices are following the path of least resistance, which is down.”

Inventories for the week have averaged 3.382 trillion cubic feet for the last five years, according to the Energy Department. The estimated decrease would leave stockpiles 11 percent above that level.

The supply estimates ranged from declines of 68 billion to 103 billion cubic feet. The department’s weekly report is scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

Mild Weather

New York’s high touched 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 Celsius) Dec. 6, 16 degrees above normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. Boston rose to 61 degrees.

About 51 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department. Marketed gas production will average 67.72 billion cubic feet a day in 2012, up from 65.9 billion this year, the department estimated in its monthly Short-Term Energy Outlook on Dec. 6.

Natural gas for January delivery fell 26.7 cents, or 7.5 percent, to $3.317 per million British thermal units last week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The January contract today fell 14.4 cents, or 4.4 percent, to $3.135 per million Btu at 2:07 p.m. in New York after dropping to $3.126, the lowest intraday price since Sept. 14, 2009.

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