Natural Gas in Underground Storage

The weekly EIA Natural Gas Storage Report advised that there was a withdrawal of 77Bcf from Underground Storage for the week ending December 7th, 2018.

This is 7Bcf below the median forecast of an 84Bcf withdrawal, the average prediction of sector analysts and traders in the Dow Jones Newswires weekly survey. The withdrawal compares with -69Bcf last year and -79Bcf for the five-year average. Storage is 722Bcf below last year for the same week and 723Bcf below the 5-year average. Working gas in storage stands at 2,914Bcf.

Natural Gas Pricing


As of 9:44AM CST, January 2018, (the prompt month) Natural Gas was trading at $4.23, -$0.22 from one week ago and the 1-Year Spread average was $3.19, -$0.09 from one week ago.

Crude Oil Pricing


As of 9:35AM CST, January, 2018, (the prompt month) Light, Sweet Crude on the NYMEX was at $51.45, -$2.21 from one week ago.

Crude Oil Inventory


US crude inventories decreased by 1.2 million barrels to 442.0 million barrels for the week ended December 7th, according to data released yesterday morning by the US Department of Energy. Traders in the Reuters poll projected a decrease of 3.0 million barrels.

U.S. Rotary Rigs


U.S. Rotary Rigs drilling for natural gas were +9 at 198 for the week of December 7th. The number of rigs currently drilling for Natural Gas was +18 from last year. US Rigs drilling for oil were -10 at 877. There are 126 more rigs targeting oil than last year. Canadian rigs were -13 at 186 for the week. Rigs targeting oil remain 82% of all US drilling activity.

Geopolitical


Calls for 'level playing field' in US energy storage: More than 150 wind, solar, and hydro companies and organizations signed a letter supporting the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act.

The proposed bill would allow energy storage projects — including batteries, flywheels, pumped hydro, thermal storage, compressed air, and others — with capacities of at least 5kWh to apply for ITCs.

It would also make residential battery storage with a capacity of at least 3kWh eligible for tax credits. Wind power developers including EDP Renewables, Enel Green Power North America, and Pattern Energy were among those to sign the letter.

The Act would enable developers to obtain better financing, grow in scale to create jobs, and would create a level playing field for energy storage.

Weather

The AccuWeather 1-5 day Outlook forecasts above-normal temps for the most of the US with the exception of the deep South, from Texas to Florida, which will be at normal temps. The 6-10 Day Outlook forecasts the country at above-normal temps with the exception of the Southeast, which will be at normal or below normal temps. 

11-15 Day Outlook  forecasts the Eastern 2/3 of the country at above-normal temps with the  Western third of the US at normal or below-normal temps. The 30-day Outlook projects normal temps for almost all of the US except the far North Central states, which are projected to be at above-normal temps.

The 90-Day Outlook projects the most of the country at normal temps with the exception of the Northwest, which is expected to be at above-normal temps.

Sustainability and Renewables


Researchers have announced a new battery breakthrough that focuses on the negative. Rather than using lithium, the most electro-positive element on the periodic table, they used flouride, the most electro-negative. It can store more energy than its lithium doppelgänger, but until now, batteries needed to run hot at 150 degrees Celcius or more. Honda, Caltech and NASA scientists discovered a way to make it work at room temperature, which could eventually yield more energy dense and environmentally safe batteries for EVs and other devices.

Fluoride-ion batteries essentially work in the opposite direction of lithium-ion cells, attracting electrons instead of shedding them. Flouride (the ionized version of fluorine) is an interesting battery material because it has a low atomic weight and very high capacity to store electrons. However, to do that, you have to dissolve the fluoride ions into an electrolyte, and researchers have found that it only works with solid electrolytes heated to high temperatures.

To get around that, the Honda/NASA/Caltech team created a liquid electrolyte called BTFE that allows fluoride to dissolve at room temperature. With two positively-charged regions, it exploits the "opposites attract" principal, reacting strongly to negatively-charged fluoride.

This Week's Key Take-Away


What a difference a week makes! Natural Gas prices dropped to a low of $4.05 for the prompt month after flirting with $5.00 in the past week. Why the big drop? Weather prediction... not exactly the bellwether indicator of absolutes but it appears that energy traders on the NYMEX have taken it to heart.

A week ago, it appeared that the next 60 days would be colder-than
-normal but forecasters have reversed their projections and now believe that the El Niño that was predicted back in October to affect US weather is actually doing just that, (proving that even a broken clock is right twice a day). In fact, US federal forecasters are now saying that there is 90% chance that an El Niño will form this winter, making it both warmer and dryer than winters past- all evidence to the contrary, (such as the major winter storm that just ravaged the South and North Carolina in particular.

What causes El Niño conditions? They are a natural phenomenon marked by warmer-than-average seawater in the tropical Pacific Ocean, El Niño is Earth's most influential climate pattern. El Niños will be stronger and more frequent in the decades ahead  because of controversial (not!) global warming, causing "more extreme events" in the US and around the world, a study said Wednesday. Stay tuned!

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