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Natural Gas Supply Decline Below Historical Norm, Forecasts Show

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Dec. 19 (Bloomberg) -- Natural gas inventories fell by less than average last week as warm weather reduced heating-fuel demand, analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show.

Stockpiles dropped 76 billion cubic feet to 3.73 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Dec. 14, based on the median of 22 estimates. The five-year average stockpile change for the period is a decline of 144 billion, according to the Energy Department.

Estimates ranged from decreases of 57 billion to 82 billion cubic feet. The department’s weekly supply report is scheduled for release at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

Temperatures were higher than average in the eastern U.S. last week, MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland, said. New York City’s low Dec. 10 was 44 degrees Fahrenheit (7 Celsius), 10 above normal, the National Weather Service said.

Storage withdrawals this month could reach “an all-time record low for December,” said Martin King, an analyst at FirstEnergy Capital Corp. in Calgary. “It’s still too early to call the winter yet, but much colder temperatures are needed very soon to avoid another pricing apocalypse for the industry.”

Natural gas futures have climbed 0.6 cent to $3.32 per million British thermal so far this week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices have gained 11 percent this year, heading for the first annual increase since 2007.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christine Buurma in New York at cbuurma1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at dstets@bloomberg.net

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