Natural gas prices News

Bearish Drawdown Puts More Pressure on Natural Gas Prices
February 10, 2015 – 02:46 pm

Nilanjan ChoudhuryThe U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory release showed a smaller-than-expected decrease in natural gas supplies. As a result, the commodity’s stockpiles still remain plentiful, thereby pressuring prices.

About the Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report

The Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report – brought out by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) every Thursday since 2002 – includes updates on natural gas market prices, the latest storage level estimates, recent weather data and other market activities or events.

The report provides an overview of the level of reserves and their movements, thereby helping investors understand the demand/supply dynamics of natural gas. It is an indicator of current gas prices and volatility that affect businesses of natural gas-weighted companies and related support plays.

Analysis of the Data

Stockpiles held in underground storage in the lower 48 states fell by 45 billion cubic feet (Bcf) for the week ended Mar 13, 2015, below the guided range (of 47–51 Bcf draw) as per the analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Financial Inc. The decrease was also less than last year’s drop of 69 Bcf though it matched the 5-year (2010–2014) average withdrawal for the reported week.

Following past week’s lower-than-expected withdrawal, the current storage level – at 1.467 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) – is up 507 Bcf (52.8%) from last year but it is 225 Bcf (13.3%) below the five-year average.

With production from the major shale plays remaining strong and the commodity’s demand failing to keep pace with this supply surge, natural gas prices remain in check, currently around $2.8 per million Btu (MMBtu).

Bearish Pressure on Prices

From a peak of about $13.50 per MMBtu in 2008 to $2.8 now – sinking in between to a 10-year low of under $2 in 2012 – the plummeting value of natural gas represents a decline of approximately 80% over seven years. In the absence of major production cuts, we do not expect much upside in gas prices in the near term.

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