Natural Gas Inventory Estimates Predict Gain Was Above Average

Natural gas stockpiles rose by more than the seasonal norm last week for the third time in a row, according to analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. stockpiles gained 92 billion cubic feet to 2.056 trillion in the seven days ended May 17, based on the median of 10 analyst estimates. The five-year average increase for the period is 90 billion, Energy Information Administration data show. Inventories increased by 75 billion a year earlier.

The estimates range from increases of 87 billion to 99 billion cubic feet. The EIA, the statistical arm of the Energy Department, is scheduled to release its weekly gas inventory report at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow in Washington.

Temperatures were below normal along the East Coast and into Texas last week with higher-than-normal readings across the rest of the lower 48 states, according to MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland. More seasonal May weather after an unusually cold start to spring cut demand, boosting storage injections above the norm for the time of the year.

“The vicious weather system that is producing some cooling demand, along with epic tornadoes, is moving through and longer-range forecasts are showing moderation,” John Kilduff, partner at Again capital LLC and editor of the Energy OverView newsletter in New York, wrote today. “We expect a net injection of 96 bcf of gas into storage tomorrow, and that should renew the selloff.”

Natural gas futures have risen 13.1 cents, or 3.2 percent, this week to $4.186 per million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 25 percent this year.

Gas inventories in the week ended May 10 were 4.1 percent below the five-year average, narrowing from 5 percent the prior period, according to the EIA. A deficit versus year-earlier levels narrowed a fifth week to 26.1 percent from 28.3 percent.

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