Natural Gas Supply Drop Smallest in Six Weeks, Forecasts Show

Natural gas stockpiles dropped last week by the smallest amount in six weeks as mild weather in the eastern U.S. reduced heating demand, analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show.

Inventories fell 125 billion cubic feet to 2.677 trillion cubic feet in the week ended Feb. 1, based on the median of 19 estimates. A withdrawal of that size would be the least since Dec. 21, according to the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration, which is scheduled to release its weekly supply report at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

The five-year average change for the period of is a decline of 165 billion. Supplies the same week last year slid by 94 billion cubic feet. Stockpile estimates ranged from decreases of 120 billion to 151 billion cubic feet.

“Sendouts have dropped with moderating weather in the Northeast” from storage, Laurent Key, a natural gas analyst with Societe Generale in New York, said in a note to clients yesterday. “Fundamentals should lead to a range-bound market.”

Natural gas futures last week fell 14.3 cents, or 4.2 percent, to $3.301 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. March contracts today rose 0.6 percent to $3.418. Prices are up 34 percent from a year ago.

Warmer Weather

Temperatures were above normal from most of the central States to the East Coast last week, said MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Gas deliveries to customers slid 8.8 percent to average 80.26 billion cubic feet a day for the same period covered by the EIA report, compared with the previous week, according to LCI Energy Insight, an analysis and consulting firm in El Paso, Texas.

Storage withdrawals since end of October totaled 1.128 billion cubic feet from the end of October through Jan. 25, 16 percent below the five-year average for the period, Jose Villar, an EIA analyst, said in an e-mail yesterday.

Gas inventories in the week ended Jan. 25 were 12.2 percent above the five-year average for the period and 6.7 percent below year-earlier levels.

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