Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Natural Gas Inventories are Headed Toward Zero

This is the energy story on the winter, and this, from Robert Rapier, is the best article I've seen on it.
My fellow Ontarians should know the situation appears to be worse here, from my perspective observing the electricity market which is now setting price records whenever gas-fired generators are required.

Natural Gas Inventories are Headed Toward Zero:
...a typical winter season will see just over 2 tcf pulled out of storage — an amount equivalent to about 10 percent of annual US natural gas production.
In the case of a mild winter as in 2012, inventories won’t be pulled down as much before they begin to rebuild. In fact, the winter of 2011-2012 failed to pull gas inventories below 2 tcf for the first time in over 20 years. It wasn’t a coincidence that this corresponded to natural gas prices that went below $2 per million Btu (MMBtu) the following month, and spent a full year below $4 per million Btu (MMBtu).
Presently, the exact opposite is happening. This season’s withdrawal marks the fastest inventory depletion on record during the winter months. We have already withdrawn 2.4 tcf — more than the average for most winters — and we are likely 4-6 weeks away from the bottom. If withdrawals continue at the current pace, the inventory level would reach zero the week of March 28th (see the figure below), which is usually around the time inventories start to recover. This may lead to more spiking prices in the weeks ahead, but more importantly it will probably support higher than normal natural gas prices for the rest of the year.
Regardless of what happens over the next 6 weeks, natural gas inventories will probably bottom out at the lowest level on record. The current lowest inventory level on record took place on April 11, 2003 at 642 billion cubic feet (bcf).

Natural gas in underground storage hasn’t dropped below 1 tcf since 2003, but the latest EIA report showed inventories on February 14th at 1.4 tcf and falling at a weekly rate of 245 bcf per week (average rate of decline over the past month). At that rate, we will go below 1 tcf of gas in underground storage this week
Read the entire article at energy trends insider

One aspect not discussed is reserve levels required to maintain the pressure levels required to keep the pipeline system functional.  I'm not sure what a minimum inventory level is, but it's not zeero.

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