Friday, July 31, 2009

Natural Gas Inventories Up in the USA

By Reg Curren

July 31 (Bloomberg) -- Natural gas fell for the fourth day this week after Chesapeake Energy Corp., the second largest U.S. gas producer, said output increased in the second quarter.

Production rose 4 percent from the first quarter and was up 5 percent from a year earlier, the Oklahoma City-based company said in a statement late yesterday. Gas inventories already are the highest for this time of year since the Energy Department began keeping records in 1994.

“Oil and gas operators have come out with some pretty robust results so you have concerns that supply isn’t going to roll over fast enough” to reduce stockpiles, said Scott Hanold, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Minneapolis. “You’re going to have storage fill up and there will be gas-on-gas competition.”

Natural gas for September delivery fell 9.6 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $3.647 per million British thermal units at 9:38 a.m. on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Gas prices have fallen 4.9 percent this month and are down 35 percent this year.

Natural gas extended losses after a U.S. Commerce Department report showed the recession was deeper than first estimated and consumer spending shrank more than twice as much as forecast.

Lower consumer spending may hamper the economy’s recovery and demand for gas by industry, which accounts for 29 percent of U.S. consumption. The U.S. gross domestic product shrank at a 1 percent annual pace in the second quarter.

“One of the weak points for gas has been industrial demand and that’s obviously GDP-related,” Hanold said.

Total gas used by industrial consumers, including factories, steel mills and chemical plants, plunged 13 percent in the first five months of 2009 to 2.576 trillion cubic feet from the same period a year earlier, the Energy Department said on July 29.

Gas inventories increased by 71 billion cubic feet in the week ended July 24 to 3.023 trillion, the Energy Department said yesterday. The amount of gas in storage for the week compared to the five-year average widened to 19 percent from 18 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Reg Curren in Calgary at
Last Updated: July 31, 2009 09:51 EDT


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