Natural gas prices were up modestly for most pricing points across the report week (Wednesday to Wednesday). The Henry Hub closed at $3.34 per million British thermal unit (MMBtu) yesterday, up 6 cents per MMBtu for the week. The exceptions were trading points in the Northeast which either remained elevated or saw significant price rises.
The March 2013 NYMEX contract decreased slightly from $3.306 per MMBtu last Wednesday to $3.279 per MMBtu yesterday, February 20. The near-month NYMEX price ended the report week 6 cents per MMBtu below the Henry Hub price.
Currently March 2013 Natural Gas contract falling $0.02 cents on the day to $3.26.
Total demand for the report week was up. According to Bentek estimates, overall natural gas consumption for the nation increased by 6.1 percent. The residential/commercial sector, the biggest gas-consuming sector during the winter, consumed 7.4 percent more natural gas week-on-week. Natural gas consumption for power generation was also up, increasing by 7.3 percent.
The Midwest faced colder temperatures week-on-week, consuming 23.6 percent more natural gas for power generation. The Southeast, which consumes the most natural gas for power generation, saw depressed temperatures relative to the 30-year norm, and burned 23.0 percent more natural gas in that sector. West Coast consumers faced relatively warmer temperatures with the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, and Rockies consuming 7.1 percent, 13.8 percent, and 2.1 percent less natural gas for power generation over the report period, respectively.
Working natural gas in storage fell last week to 2,400 Bcf as of Friday, February 15, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report (WNGSR). An implied storage withdrawal of 127 Bcf for the week moved storage levels 242 Bcf below year-ago levels, and 361 Bcf above the 5-year range.
Total supply for the report week was essentially flat. Bentek estimates an overall supply increase of 0.1 percent for the report period. U.S. gross and dry natural gas production were down 0.4 percent. A net increase in imports from Canada of 3.3 percent mostly offset the decrease in production. Driving the increase in imports from Canada was a 25.4 percent rise in imports to the Midwest. LNG imports increased by 50 percent, although they are a very minor contributor to U.S. supply.