(Reuters) - U.S. utilities likely injected a below-normal 63 billion cubic feet (bcf) of natural gas into storage last week as an unexpected warm spell lifted fuel demand for air conditioning, a poll of analysts showed on Wednesday.
That build for the week ended Sept. 21 compared with a year-ago build of 64 bcf and a five-year average build of 81 bcf for the corresponding period. In the week ended Sept. 14, which was a cooler week, utilities added 86 bcf to storage.
If estimates are on target, the build would take stockpiles to 2.785 trillion cubic feet (tcf), the lowest for the week since 2003. That would be about 19 percent below the same week a year ago and nearly 18 percent below the five-year average.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) will release its weekly storage report at 10:30 a.m. EDT (1430 GMT) on Thursday.
There were 74 cooling degree days (CDDs) last week, compared with 66 CDDs in the same week a year ago and a 30-year normal of 48 CDDs for the period.
CDDs, which measure the number of degrees a day’s average temperature is above 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius), are used to estimate demand to cool homes and businesses.
The Reuters poll had 22 participants, with estimates ranging from injections of 52 bcf to 76 bcf, and a median build of 62 bcf.
Early estimates for the week ending Sept. 28 ranged from builds of 81 bcf to 104 bcf, with an average forecast for an increase of 93 bcf.
That compared with a build of 44 bcf for the same week last year and a five-year average increase of 84 bcf.
Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Scott DiSavino and Paul Simao