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Natural Gas Stockpile Gain Was Third of Normal, Analysts Say

U.S. natural-gas inventories rose by about a third of the normal amount last week as hot weather boosted demand from power plants and Hurricane Isaac reduced production in the Gulf of Mexico.

Inventories expanded by 26 billion cubic feet, or 0.8 percent, to 3.428 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Sept. 7, based on the median of 12 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The gain would be 36 percent of the five-year average increase for the week of 72 billion cubic feet. Supplies advanced 80 billion a year earlier.

The stockpile estimates ranged from increases of 19 billion to 39 billion cubic feet. The Energy Department’s weekly inventory report is scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

“Ongoing production losses due to Hurricane Isaac were one limiting factor on storage injections for last week, but cooling demand was stronger too,” Tim Evans, an energy analyst at Citi Futures Perspective in New York, said in a note to clients yesterday. “With moderate temperatures anticipated over the next two weeks, storage injections will likely rebound to near average rates.”

An inventory gain in line with the Bloomberg estimate would cut a surplus to about 9 percent above the five-year average for the week, the narrowest since Dec. 2. The supply gap was 10.7 percent the previous week.

Gas production in the Gulf of Mexico averaged 2.66 billion cubic feet a day in the week ended Sept. 6 after Hurricane Isaac pushed into Louisiana, according to LCI Energy Insight, an energy analysis and consulting firm in El Paso, Texas. Daily output averaged 5.07 billion two weeks earlier, before the storm entered the Gulf.

Warm Weather

Temperatures were above normal in most of the contiguous states last week, according to MDA EarthSat Weather. A cooling trend in the Midwest will expand into the East over the next 11 to 15 days, the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based forecaster said.

Electricity generators account for 36 percent of U.S. gas consumption, Energy Department data show.

Natural gas for October delivery slid 3.3 cents, or 1.1 percent to $2.959 per million British thermal units at 9:44 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices are down 1 percent this year.

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