With storage at record, end-of-season ratchets could further stress market

Friday, January 20, 2012

An analysis of Energy Information Administration data by Bentek Energy, a division of Platts, looked at the requirements of eight different pipeline systems, which allow for storage at the end of the season to be between 20% and 55% full.

According to Maria Sanchez, a manager of energy analysis with Bentek, pipeline systems with aquifer storage "actually have the lowest levels of ratchets in terms of the least amount of gas needed by the end of the withdrawal season." For example, the Texas Gas Transmission system has a 53% maximum and Natural Gas Pipeline Co. of America, which supplies the Chicago market, has a 55% maximum, she said.

A Bentek analysis shows nearly all storage fields in the US are well above these limits. According to the analysis, 13 sampled storage fields in the East consuming region were at a combined average of 81% capacity as of January 13. Great Lakes Gas Transmission's Deward system was at 96% capacity as of last week. At the same point last year, these 13 fields were at less than 65% capacity, Bentek said.

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