Tag Archives: Energy Information Administration

Natural gas futures fall on inventory buildup

US natural gas in storage increased by 98 Bcf from the previous week to sit at 2,354 Bcf as of Friday, June 17, 2011, according to US Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) estimates. Analysts polled by Platts expected an increase between 87 and 91 Bcf for the week. Natural gas for July delivery declined on the EIA report. The EIA and many analysts believe that strong production along and moredate summer weather conditions will push natural gas in storage to near-record levels ahead of the winter heating season.

Kyle Cooper, managing partner IAF Advisors in Houston was quoted in the WSJ.com as stating:

“Storage is the difference between supply and demand. To put 98 bcf in the ground means you’re roughly 14 bcf per day of excess supply.”

According to Baker Hughes Inc. the number of rigs drilling in the U.S. for natural gas has fallen to 870 rigs from about 1,000 last summer. However, The number of rigs drilling for oil has increased significantly to nearly 1,000 – and many of these oil rigs produce high volumes of natural gas.

Natural gas futures advance; supplies grow less than expected

U.S. natural gas inventories had a net increase of 31 Bcf, for a total of 1,685 Bcf in storage as of Friday, April 22, 2011, according to Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) estimates released yesterday. Analysts expected a boost of 37 billion to 41 billion cubic feet, according to a survey by Platts.

Traders had natural gas futures up today (~1.1%) on the speculation that warm weather and fewer natural gas drilling rigs which dropped by seven rigs for a third consecutive report from Baker Hughs. Rig count is down 4.5% for the year. A new rig count is expected out today.

Meanwhile hot weather in the Southern US states may see an early start to the air conditioning season and increase natural gas consumption at a time when production is potentially declining. And as such natural gas goes into one of its weather swings that makes natural gas prices challenging to predict.

Phil Flynn, an analyst with PFGBest in Chicago, is quoted in Business Week as stating;

“We had an inventory level that was supposed to be impenetrable. We’ve had a few bullish stockpile reports, and people are wondering if there’s an issue with production.”

A potential increase in natural gas prices still leaves it in the affordable category compared to recent oil prices and the EIA sees increased production of natural gas liquids (NGLs) which set an all-time record in 2010, topping 2 million barrels per day.

Natural gas futures down on lower then expected decline in US supplies

Yesterday, US natural gas futures added to losses Thursday after a weekly report from the Energy Information Administration reported a lower-than-expected decline in supplies. Natural gas for April delivery retreated 12 cents, or 3%, to $3.81 per million British thermal units; it traded at $3.86 per million Btus moments before the data release. The EIA reported a decline of 71 billion cubic feet for natural gas in storages in the week ended March 4. Analysts polled by Platts had expected a decline between 78 and 82 bcf.

US Natural Gas Supplies Down Less then Expected

US natural gas in storage declined by 233 Bcf to sit at 1,911 Bcf for the week of Friday, February 11, 2011, according to Energy Information Administration’s weekly report today. Stocks were 141 Bcf less than last year at this time and 128 Bcf below the 5-year average of 2,039 Bcf.

Despite draw downs bringing natural gas down below historical levels, the weekly net decline was less then expected and natural gas prices were down on expectations. Analysts polled by Platts had expected a decline of 235 to 239 billion cubic feet.

Its important to note that the natural gas rotary rig count decreased by 5 rigs this week to 906, according to data reported on February 11 by Baker Hughes Incorporated. The number of rigs dedicated to drilling for natural gas prospects is currently 15 higher than this time last year.

A cold or hot weather snap can dramatically impact natural gas in storage and perhaps blur the long term trend of lower demand and higher supply.

 

US Natural gas supplies fall a little more then expected

US Natural gas supplies fell more than expected last week as another round of cold weather swept across much of the northeast United State. US natural gas had a net decline of 174 Bcf to sit at 2,542 Bcf in storage as of Friday, January 21, 2011, according to Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) estimates. Stocks were 9 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 29 Bcf above the 5-year average of 2,513 Bcf.

Analysts surveyed by Platts, the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Cos., expected supplies to fall by 168 billion to 172 billion cubic feet.

 

US natural gas in storages down by 23 Bcf

US natural gas in storage was declined by 23 Bcf to 3,814 Bcf as of Friday, November 26, 2010, according to Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) report today. This puts inventory at 23 Bcf less then the same time last year, and 347 Bcf above the 5-year average. Analysts polled expected a draw down of 26 Bcf to 30 Bcf.

Jay Levine of Energjay LLC said that the government report should spark movement in the price Thursday but the effect will be limited until a long-term withdrawal trend is established. Levine is quoted in the Wall Street Journal;

“Any report, including today’s, is generally only good for a knee-jerk reaction since the market will very likely go on its merry way as if the report didn’t even exist.”

The following is the text of the weekly natural gas update as released by the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington D.C.:

Following the Thanksgiving Day holiday weekend, prices moved up significantly this week as wintry weather moved into much of the country. The most severe weather to date this season is increasing space-heating demand from nearly coast to coast and as far south as Florida. During the report week (November 24- December 1), the Henry Hub spot price increased $0.39 to $4.21 per million Btu (MMBtu).

At the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), futures prices decreased during the report week in response to indications of warmer weather in the outlook and amid reports of growth in supply. The futures contract for January 2011 delivery decreased by $0.12 per MMBtu on the week to $4.27 per MMBtu.

On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the December 2010 contract expired at $4.27 per MMBtu, having increased nearly 40 cents, or 10.2 percent, since its first day of trading as the near-month contract.

As of Friday, November 26, working gas in underground storage was 3,814 billion cubic feet (Bcf), which is 10.0 percent above the 5-year (2005-2009) average.

Prices

As a strong cold-weather mass entered much of the lower 48 States this report week (November 24-December 1), natural gas demand for space heating increased significantly. Compared with the prior week, U.S. natural gas demand increased about 8 percent to as high as 87 Bcf, according to BENTEK Energy, LLC. Combined demand in the residential and commercial sectors increased 21 percent from the end of the prior report week to 44 Bcf for on Wednesday, December 1. This higher demand led to widespread increases in prices that generally ranged between 5 and 15 percent east of the Mississippi River, but were considerably less in the West. The Henry Hub price increased on the week by $0.39 per MMBtu, or 10.2 percent, while prices at other markets in the Gulf of Mexico Producing region showed similar increases, albeit slightly lower. With wintry weather reaching as far south as Florida, the interstate natural gas pipeline serving the State yesterday alerted shippers of the need to balance supplies in order to meet higher demand (See Transportation Notes below). The spot price there finished trading yesterday at $4.84 per MMBtu, increasing 30 cents from the previous day. This early cold spell has resulted in a strengthening in prices from earlier in the fall. For example, the Henry Hub price yesterday was 79 cents per MMBtu, or 23 percent, higher than the price a month prior. Nonetheless, prices are still roughly the same or slightly below their levels this time last year. On December 1, 2009, the Henry Hub price was $4.30 per MMBtu, or about 2.1 percent above yesterday’s average of $4.21.

Price increases in the Northeast were among the highest in the country, with prices at a number of markets in the region ending the report week above $5 per MMBtu. Nonetheless, several market centers in the Northeast region posted declines of close to $0.50 per MMBtu, or more than 10 percent on the week. The uneven pattern in pricing has occurred throughout the last month as pipeline enhancements and new supply sources to the region have resulted in changing pricing dynamics between market centers. For delivery in Zone 6 (New York) off Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line, the price yesterday (December 1) averaged $5.00 per MMBtu, which was $0.71 more than the price the previous Wednesday. In trading yesterday, the Transco Zone 6 price was $0.79 per MMBtu higher than the Henry Hub, a significant increase from the prior week’s average differential of $0.42 per MMBtu. The closely- watched difference in the Northeast price over Gulf of Mexico regional prices tends to fluctuate severely during the winter. Interstate pipelines have limited flexibility to transport non- firm supplies between the two markets because of colder weather and the associated increase in space-heating demand in the Northeast, causing differences in local supply and demand conditions to develop. However, it is expected that the price differential between the regions will be minimized this winter following pipeline enhancements and new supply growth in the Northeast region. The price for deliveries to Transco Zone 6 in January 2011, for example, is currently at about $2.36 per MMBtu over the Henry Hub price in trading on the Intercontinental Exchange, while last year at this time the premium was about $3.80.

Further to the west, week-to-week price increases were significantly lower, and decreases were reported at several markets in the Rockies and California, as the coldest weather from the current cold front moved out of the region. At Rockies trading locations, price increases were generally less than 5 percent. The price for supplies on Kern River Pipeline in Utah (for delivery into California) increased just $0.11 to $4.01 per MMBtu. Yesterday’s price of $3.96 per MMBtu for natural gas off of Colorado Interstate Pipeline Company (the lowest price in the country) represented an increase of $0.06 per MMBtu on the week.

U.S. pipeline imports from Canada were significantly higher during the report week in comparison with the prior week, likely resulting from increased withdrawals from storage in Canada to meet heating demand in the United States. According to BENTEK, which monitors flows on the continental pipeline network, U.S imports from Canada during the report week increased 15 percent relative to the prior week to 7.0 Bcf per day. However, liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports (as measured by sendout from regasification terminals) averaged just 0.5 Bcf per day during this report week, which was over 21.1 percent lower than the prior week. Both Canadian and LNG imports have been significantly lower than the prior year, likely as a result of continuing supply strength from domestic drilling, particularly in shale formations in the lower 48 States. Pipeline and LNG imports during the report week were, respectively, 2.2 percent and 44.4 percent lower than last year at this time.

Spot Prices

At the NYMEX, the price of the near-month contract (for January 2011 delivery) decreased $0.12 during the report week to $4.269 per MMBtu. With the weather outlook for much of the country indicating moderate temperatures will likely return at least temporarily, the price of the January contract decreased in three of four trading sessions during the report week (there was no trading on Thursday, November 25, owing to the Thanksgiving Day holiday). The January 2011 contract is now priced about $1.55 per MMBtu lower than the final expiration price of $5.81 for the January 2010 contract. Downward price pressure also appears related to recent increases in natural gas supplies, as described by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) in a report released this week (See Other Market Trends below). At the end of trading yesterday, the 12-month strip, which is the average for natural gas futures contracts over the next year, was priced at $4.41 per MMBtu, a decrease of about $0.10 per MMBtu, or less than 2.2 percent, since last Wednesday.

The price of the December 2010 contract increased significantly with the arrival of colder weather in the final two weeks of trading as the near-month contract. Before its final settlement at $4.27 per MMBtu on Wednesday, November 24, the contract increased in five of the prior eight trading sessions for a net increase of 47 cents. This is 98 cents per MMBtu higher or 30 percent more than the expiration price of the November 2010 contract. It is also the highest final price for a NYMEX futures contract since the expiration of the August contract at $4.77 per MMBtu on July 28, 2010. Nonetheless, the December 2010 contract’s final price was 22 cents per MMBtu less than the expiration price of $4.49 for the December 2009 contract and $2.62 less than the expiration price of $6.89 for the December 2008 contract.

Storage

Working natural gas in storage fell to 3,814 Bcf as of Friday, November 26, according to EIA Weekly Natural Gas Storage Report. The net draw of 23 Bcf is less than the 5-year average draw of 36 Bcf for the report week, but it stands in stark contrast to last year’s late build of 2 Bcf. The Producing region storage levels are now 45 Bcf above last year’s level, while the East region is 40 Bcf below last year’s level. Working gas stocks in the West region are 28 Bcf below last year.

Typically the East region sees the largest draws when the weather turns cold. This is the result of the East having higher storage levels and more heating consumption during the winter. The trend did not hold this week due to weather impacts, with the West being abnormally cold. The West drew more than the East, and the Producing region actually saw a significant build despite a draw for the lower 48 States as a whole.

Temperatures were slightly above average in the lower 48 States during the week ending November 25, but regions saw major variations.*The National Weather Service’s degree-day data show that the average temperature in the lower 48 States last week averaged 45.3 degrees, 1.7 degrees above normal, but 3.0 degrees below last year. The Pacific and Mountain regions were 7.0 and 2.9 degrees below average, respectively. That accounts for the 49 percent more heating degree-days than normal in the Pacific region. In contrast, much of the southern portion of the country experienced relatively warm weather with the West South Central region standing out at nearly 10 degrees warmer than normal and a 57 percent decrease in heating degree-days.

Other Market Trends

Shale Development Helps Boost Proved Natural Gas Reserves to Highest Level since 1971. Natural gas proved reserves are at their highest level since 1971, according to EIA Summary: US Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Natural Gas Liquid Reserves, 2009, http://www.eia.gov/oil_gas/natural_gas/data_publications/crude_o il_natural_gas_reserves/cr.html, which was released November 30, 2010. Proved reserves of wet natural gas (including natural gas liquids) rose by 11 percent to 284 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). Development of natural gas in shale formations drove the increase. Increasing 9.2 Tcf, Louisiana had the largest increase in proved reserves of any State. This was largely due to development of the Haynesville Shale. Arkansas and Pennsylvania (areas of major growth in the Fayetteville and Marcellus Shales) added 5.2 Tcf and 3.4 Tcf, respectively. Proved reserves are those volumes of oil and natural gas that geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in future years from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions. EIA’s estimates of proved reserves are based on an annual survey of about 1,200 domestic oil and gas well operators.

Production Rises and Prices Fall in September. EIA released the November Natural Gas Monthly http://www.eia.gov/oil_gas/natural_gas/data_publications/natural _gas_monthly/ngm.html, which includes data through September 2010. Natural gas wellhead prices averaged $3.89 per MMBtu in September, a decrease of about 10 percent from the previous month’s level of $4.34 per MMBtu. Despite the price decline, marketed production increased from 62.6 Bcf per day in August to 63.2 Bcf per day in September. At the same time last year, marketed production of natural gas was 58.8 Bcf per day. September 2010 production recorded the highest monthly level since February 1973. Consumption fell month over month, from 60.5 Bcf per day in August to 54.1 Bcf per day in September, largely attributable to a 25 percent decline in use of natural gas for electric power generation. Heating degree-days in September declined to 196 from 356 in August.

Natural Gas Transportation Update

Two new pipelines began full-service on December 1. ETC Tiger Pipeline, with a projected 2 Bcf per day capacity, commences at an interconnect with Houston Pipeline Company in Panola County, Texas, and terminates at the Perryville Hub in Richland Parish, Louisiana. According to the company, ETC Tiger Pipeline will move natural gas from the Haynesville Shale, Bossier Sands and Fort Worth Basin production areas to end markets in the Midwest and Northeast via deliveries to seven interstate pipelines. Similarly, the Fayetteville Express pipeline, a joint venture between Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, LP, and Energy Transfer Partners, adds nearly 2 Bcf per day of capacity. Originating in Conway County, Arkansas, the pipeline terminates at an interconnect with Trunkline Gas Company in Panola County, Mississippi. This pipeline will help move Fayetteville Shale produced gas to the end markets of the Midwest and Northeast via connections with four interstate pipelines.

Forecasted below-freezing temperatures in Florida prompted Florida Gas Transmission (FGT) to issue an Overage Alert Day for the gas day of December 2. FGT notified their customers in the FGT market area that there will be a 25 percent tolerance for negative daily imbalances. Weather-driven demand is also impacting pipelines in the Northeast. On December 1, Algonquin Gas Transmission, LLC, issued a system-wide imbalance warning until further notice. Additionally, Algonquin is requiring all power plant operators on the system to provide information mandated by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order No. 698 until further notice. Information required includes the hourly consumption profiles of directly connected power generation facilities.

Northwest Pipeline, GP (Northwest), has issued a notice stating that during the Pocatello compressor maintenance in Bannock County, Idaho, from December 1 though 15, the operational capacity at the Kemmerer compressor station in Lincoln County, Wyoming, will be limited to 675,000 Dekatherms per day. Since the primary firm scheduled quantities through the Kemmerer compressor station currently exceed this capacity, Northwest issued a Recall Advisory and declared an Operational Flow Order (OFO) as of gas day December 1 until further notice. This notice will affect shippers who have an OFO obligation (contract- specific, realignment and/or must-flow) through the Kemmerer compressor station.

Natural Gas Declines in New York on Forecasts of Above-Normal Temperatures

Natural gas futures fell in New York on forecasts for above-normal temperatures that may reduce demand for the heating fuel.

According to Bloomberg report:

Warmer-than-normal weather is likely in New England and parts of New York from Nov. 29 through Dec. 8, according to MDA Federal Inc.’s EarthSat Energy Weather in Rockville, Maryland. Temperatures may be normal in the Great Lakes region, Southeast and parts of the central U.S. during that period, MDA said.

Unfortunately, this is one of the problems with natural gas. Its’ seasonal. Demand peaks and valleys are often driven by weather conditions, primarily in the energy hungry northeastern US. Another problem here is that the weatherman is not always right and though predictions of “above-normal” temperatures can place downward pressures on natural gas prices, a cold snap can come into play – and usually does.

Rather then making price predictions for natural gas, the more important consideration is where US inventory levels will be at the end of the winter heating season. HRN pointed this out last year when 2009 winter season got off to a late start and US natural gas inventories reached a new high. Well that record high was broke this year, and we are now looking at a potentially warmer then normal winter – at least for the first few weeks. (Read HRN: US natural gas in storage hit record high on only 3 Bcf – prices down)

Some interesting factors in the Bloomberg article worth noting:

The high temperature in New York on Nov. 30 may be 56 degrees Fahrenheit (13 Celsius), 8 degrees above normal, according to AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

U.S. heating demand may be 7 percent below normal levels from Nov. 30 through Dec. 4, according to David Salmon, a meteorologist with Weather Derivatives in Belton, Missouri.

About 52 percent of U.S. households use natural gas for heating, according to the Energy Department.

A department report scheduled for release at noon in Washington may show a withdrawal from U.S. natural gas inventories of 1 billion cubic feet for the week ended Nov. 19, according to the median of 24 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg. The five-year average change for the week is a drop of 13 billion cubic feet, department data show.

Bloomberg: Natural Gas Declines in New York Forecasts of Above-Normal Temperatures

US natural gas in storage record high on only 3 Bcf – prices down

US natural gas in storage was up 3 Bcf to stand at a new record high of 3,843 Bcf (0.3% higher then 2009 record) as of Friday, November 12, 2010, according to the weekly report from the Energy Information Administration (“EIA”). Although the injection was lower than expected, markets still responded to storage levels breaching 2009 heights and as a result,  natural gas prices dipped down below $4. Inventories are now 13 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 327 Bcf (9%) above the 5-year average of 3,516 Bcf. At 3,843 Bcf, total working gas is above the 5-year historical range.

So we are now at the tipping point. As always and despite delays, winter arrives. Once winter season kicks in, consumption of natural gas in storage will be greater and faster then production can add into the system – regardless of current production levels (which are higher then historical levels). This is apparent with the single digit injection into the system. So we enter into a normal winter cycle for natural gas. Not quite.

As stated last year on HRN at this time, the trend to watch here is how the US has now set two consecutive storage records at the beginning of the winter heating season. Gas stockpiles may total 1.776 trillion cubic feet at the end of this winter heating season in March, up about 114 billion cubic feet from a year earlier, according to Energy Department estimates. Under average winter condititions this means that the winter heating season will end with a record amount of natural gas still in storage while producers continue to lower costs and increase production. To illustrate, lets say it takes 50 litres of gas to fill your tank. You let it run bone dry and put 50 litres in each week. But you dont drive as much, and when it comes to your weekly fill of 50 litres, your tanke is not bone dry. To emphasize, think if you then try to add 60 litres one week. You get the point.

US producers recognize this trend. In Canada, there has always been a surplus of natural gas and they have been a net exporter – to the US – of natural gas. However, with the US production levels reaching new highs, the US is also facing the probabilites of being a net exporter of natural gas (See HRN: US to provide clean low cost energy to China)

If you read any of the articles on the Horn River News you are aware that HRN is pro-natural gas as a cleaner alternative energy source to oil and coal. It is now clear that production from shale gas has proven the abundance of natural gas available in the US and Canada. Its a free market so if producers can not sell their gas in North America they sill seek markets overseas. Fair enough. But we continue to emphasize this is a opportunity lost that may have huge negative impact on North America down the road. By exporting lower carbon energy sources we are exporting an energy resource that will become increasingly important in a world pressured to lower carbon emissions (not to mention the economic benefits of domestic energy – compared to acquiring energy from “unfriendly” US sources. See Pickens’ Plan).

So as we see a trend to increasing natural gas supplies, Canada and the US can either increase domestic usage of this surplus or export it to the benefit of others. In Canada’a case their will always be a net surplus for export – perhaps referrably to the US – but in the US, this surplus can be easily put to good use, with extra supplies readily available from an established Canada-US distribution system. The bottom line is this resembles the same relationship Canada and the US had previous to the shale gas boom. But now with greater volumes of natural gas readily available, we simply need to increase consumption in transportation and power generation to offse some of the oil and coal used in these areas.

US Natural Gas in storage hits record high and enters “golden age” on China demand

For some time now we have been talking about the increasing concern over the amount of natural gas being injected into the US storage system. Today, the EIA reported a net increase of 19 Bcf to bring the total amount of working gas in storage to a record 3,840 Bcf surpassing the record set last year of 3,837 Bcf. Inventories are 31 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 342 Bcf above the 5-year average of 3,498 Bcf.

The net increase of 19 Bcf was 25 Bcf lower then analysts expected, but this was over shadowed by the record breaking total amount in storage.  Inventories are 31 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 342 Bcf above the 5-year average of 3,498 Bcf.

Natural gas supplies have grown in recent years as producers continue to unlock previously unreachable reservoirs in  shale formations. And while some companies state they will shut in production or slow drilling activities and until prices appreciate,  most continue to drill and produce because of lower costs, or simply because of capital investment into land leases.

Interestingly enough, on Wednesday, the world’s second largest oil-field-services contractor, Halliburton Co. detailed to analysts their plans to lower costs for North American gas producers to keep them drilling even in this low-price supply glut. And this may be the real news here.

Here on HRN our position has been that natural gas will likely be the most important energy source of the next century with far reaching economic and geopolitical impact. In a recent report the International Energy Agency (“EIA”) sees a “golden age” ahead for natural gas stating as demand increases in China and the Middle East as new gas-fired power stations are built.  This is due in part because of the abundance of natural gas available in shale formation around the world, and the IEA projection of oil peaking in 2035 and going over $200 barrel.

According to the IEA’s World Energy Outlook 2010 report published today, the global natural gas demand may surge as much as 44% to 2035 over 2008 levels, reaching 4.5 trillion cubic meters a year (435 Bcf a day) as China’s use grows an average 6% a year annually.

IEA states, “China could lead us into a golden age for gas. Demand in the Middle East increases almost as much.”

The IEA foresees that natural gas demand will return to growth this year after dropping in 2009 in the wake of the economic crisis and global oversupply due mainly to shale gas production. Based on three assumpsions for climate change the IEA sees natural gas as the only fossil fuel for which demand in 2035 is higher than in 2008.

Unfortunately, the US and Canada have done little to capitalize on natural gas as a low-carbon alternative to oil and coal, and producers are working hard to build infrastructure to export domestic natural gas along with its benefits to Asia and the world. Now with that being said there have been some groups that have recognized the opportunity and benefit of natural gas and converted over (Example: HRN “Waste Management Inc. to convert truck fleet t natural gas” )

Not surprisely China and others countries are planning long term and are preparing for the future. China is expanding its usage of natural gas in transportation and power generation.  As of Dec. 2009 report. Canada only had 12,000 natural gas vehicles and 80 filling stations while the USA had 110,000  and 1,300 stations. In fact the US has a relatively high number of filling stations comparative to other countries which assists in the convenience concerns, but needs to promote the use of natural gas much better. We could could on and on here… but its already well covered in previous HRN articles.

The bottom line folks is there is an abundance of affordable, cleaner natural gas in North America. Let’s use it or others will.

WATCH: IEA World Energy Outlook Presentation (video link)

Bloomberg: Natural Gas May Enter “Golden Age” on Chinese Demand, Says IEA

US GAS: Futures Fall On Mild Weather, High Inventories

By Matt Day of Dow Jones Newswire

NEW YORK (Source: Wall Street Journal)–Natural gas futures fell Friday as mild weather and tepid demand for the fuel kept traders focused on high inventories.

Natural gas for November delivery fell 4.5 cents, or 1.2%, to $3.827 a million British thermal units on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The benchmark contract fell more than 2% Thursday after a report that U.S. stockpiles increased by more than expected last week.

High inventories have pressured prices lower this summer and stifled recent rallies, as strong production from unconventional sources depressed the market. Meanwhile, winter weather and the accompanying rise in gas-heating needs is still likely weeks away, and some forecasters have predicted a warmer-than-normal October, slashing the demand outlook for the fuel.

“There is no compelling reason to buy here right now,” said Peter Beutel, of energy-advisory firm Cameron Hanover. “At the same time, though, we do expect bargain-hunting at low prices.”

“North American markets remain inundated with production as a result of high rig counts and rig productivity,” analysts at Barclays Capital wrote in a client note. “Even with prices below $4, producers have shown limited willingness to cut drilling activity.”

Natural gas in U.S. storage for the week ended Sept. 24 stood at 3.414 trillion cubic feet, 6.3% above the five-year average, the Energy Information Administration said Thursday. The 74 billion cubic feet injection was above both the five-year average increase of 67 bcf and last year’s 65-bcf increase.

Futures have traded in a narrow range recently, weighed down by the oversupply, but supported as traders anticipate a typical seasonal rally. Gas prices typically reach a seasonal bottom in August or September before rising on expectations of the coming winter gas-heating demand.

Tropical storm activity also lent little support to prices. Despite predictions at the outset of hurricane season for significant disruptions to offshore gas production areas in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, storms have generally steered clear of the region. The Gulf is home to about 10% of U.S. gas production, and prices can spike if hurricanes are seen threatening the energy infrastructure there.

-By Matt Day, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-4986; matthew.day2@dowjones.com