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Western Price Survey

April 19, 2019
U.S. Natural Gas Inventory Starts Spring at Lowest Level Since 2014

The amount of working natural gas in storage nationwide at the end of March reached its lowest level since 2014, according to a newly released U.S. Energy Information Administration analysis.

Storage in the continental United States by March 31—the traditional end of the natural gas withdrawal season—was 1,137 Bcf. This is 30 percent less than the previous five-year average and the lowest level since 2014, when the EIA says inventories totaled 837 Bcf at the end of March.

The agency attributes the decline to having the lowest storage level in more than a decade at the beginning of the winter heating season. This was coupled with a cold November, which prompted almost twice the normal amount of natural gas withdrawals.

Nationally, working natural gas in storage was 1,247 Bcf as of April 12, according to EIA estimates. This is a net increase of 92 Bcf compared with the previous week. Pacific region natural gas storage is now 128 Bcf following a net increase of 9 Bcf.

Henry Hub gas spot prices shed 12 cents in the April 11 to April 17 trading period, ending at $2.57/MMBtu.

Markets were closed April 19 in observance of Good Friday.

The majority of Western natural gas hubs dropped between 10 cents and as much as 70 cents in the abbreviated trading period. El Paso-San Juan Basin gas fell the most, down 70 cents to $1.02/MMBtu. Three hubs picked up less than a dime. Among them, SoCal CityGate natural gas gained the most, ticking up 9 cents to end at $2.90/MMBtu.

Meanwhile, California peak power prices posted gains in April 11 to April 18 trading. North of Path 15 gained the most value, up $6.65 to $29.95/MWh. Pacific Northwest hubs dipped, with Mid-Columbia daytime power down $2.85 to $15.35. By April 18, prices ranged from $15.35/MWh at Mid-C to $30.65/MWh at South of Path 15.

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Likewise, California nighttime power prices gained value, led by NP15, which added $2.55 to reach $25.20/MWh, while Pacific Northwest hubs lost roughly 75 cents. Off-peak power prices April 18 ranged from $15.30/MWh at Mid-C to $26.45/MWh at SP15.

California Independent System Operator demand reached 29,015 MW April 18, which should be the week’s high. Northwest Power Pool Demand reached 52,765 MW April 15.

Total renewables on the CAISO grid reached 14,741 MW April 15, meeting almost 55 percent of demand. Solar generation reached 11,193 MW April 17, fulfilling about 42 percent of demand.

The statewide snowpack has a 42-inch snow-water equivalent, according to the California Department of Water Resources, which is 164 percent of the April 18 average.
–Linda Dailey Paulson

Archives of the Western Price Survey for the past year are also available online.


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