Working natural gas in storage rose to 3,409 Bcf as of Friday, September 30, according to EIA’s WNGSR (see Storage Figure). Following a net injection of 97 Bcf from the previous week, stocks are now 78 Bcf below last year and 28 Bcf above the 5-year average. The injection was much larger than the 5-year average injection of 74 Bcf and last year’s injection of 84 Bcf.
This was the second week in a row of very large builds. After spending most of the summer at a deficit to the 5-year average, stocks have rebuilt very quickly over the last several weeks as the hot weather has become milder. With production at very high levels, stocks were able to rapidly gain ground in the absence of much power sector demand and before major heating demand begins.
Temperatures during the week ending Thursday, September 29, averaged 67.7 degrees, 3.7 degrees warmer than normal and 2.9 degrees warmer than last week (see Temperature Maps and Data). Regionally, temperatures were higher than normal everywhere except the Midwest. The Northeast was the warmest relative to normal with New England 11.6 degrees warmer than normal and the Middle Atlantic 8.9 degrees warmer. These two regions would typically be starting to consume heating fuels such as natural gas as the weather turns colder, but heating degree-days last week were down over 90 percent from normal in each region.
Other Market Trends
Natural Gas Rig Count Rises to 923. The natural gas rotary rig count rose by 11 to 923 as of September 30, according to data reported by Baker Hughes Incorporated. This is the highest value since December 22, 2010. The oil rig count, on the other hand, fell by 11 during the week but it remains at a historically high level of 1,060. Compared to the same time a year ago, the natural gas rig count has dropped 4 percent, while the oil rig count has risen by 54 percent. The increase in oil rigs is likely related to increases in oil prices year over year. Though natural gas rigs have fallen year over year (and declined substantially from record highs in 2008), production has continued to rise. This is likely a combination of increases in associated production from the oil rigs, as well as increases in production per rig. Vertical rigs (including both oil and natural gas) rose during the week, from 609 to 617, their highest level since 2009. Horizontal rigs (also including both oil and natural gas) fell by 5 to 1,035.