(Reuters) - U.S. utilities likely injected a smaller-than-normal 37 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas into storage last week as hot weather caused power generators to burn more of the fuel to keep air conditioners humming and Tropical Storm Barry knocked out some production in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a Reuters poll on Wednesday.
The projected build for the week ended July 19 compares with an increase of 27 bcf during the same week a year ago and a five-year average injection (2014-2018) of 44 bcf for the period.
Utilities added 62 bcf to storage in the prior week ended July 12.
If estimates are on target, the increase would boost stockpiles to 2.570 trillion cubic feet (tcf), 5.5% below the five-year average and over 13% above the same week a year ago.
The amount of gas in storage has remained below the five-year average since September 2017.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration will release its weekly storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Thursday.
Output in the Lower 48 states fell as low as 87.6 billion cubic feet per day (bcfd) last week, down from an average of 89.5 bcfd in the prior week, according to data firm Refinitiv. That compares with an all-time daily high of 91.1 bcfd on July 5.
The weather, meanwhile, was warmer than normal last week with 105 cooling degree days (CDDs) versus a 30-year average of 88 CDDs for the period and 105 CDDs for the same week last year.
CDDs measure the number of degrees a day’s average temperature is above 65 Fahrenheit (18 Celsius), and are used to estimate demand to cool homes and businesses.
Reuters polled 18 analysts, who estimated injections ranging from 29 bcf to 47 bcf, with an average and a median build of 37 bcf.
Early estimates for the week ending July 26 ranged from 33 bcf to 74 bcf, with an average increase of 52 bcf.
That compares with a build of 31 bcf for the same week last year and a five-year average injection of 37 bcf.
Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; editing by Scott DiSavino and Lisa Shumaker