A brutal cold start of the year has been followed by moderate temperatures across the country. Natural gas prices have risen significantly since early January 2014, as inventories were being depleted at a faster than normal rate due to higher than normal heating demand. Nevertheless, record production and tepid demand after the spring months triggered a massive selloff in mid-June 2014, with the front month losing more than 20 percent to date. Early concerns of tight supply conditions ahead of the next heating season have eased due to weekly record or near-record injections. Electricity prices have also plunged not only because of the recent drop in natural gas prices, but also because of a drop in heat rates. In Texas, peak load had not been this low in June and July since 2010. Low electricity demand has depressed spot and forward heat rates.
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Natural gas inventories have recovered significantly after reaching an 11-year record low of 822Bcf in late March-2014. During the last nine weeks, natural gas injections into storage have outperformed historical levels, and eight of them exceeded 100Bcf/week. Moreover, the last nine injections have exceeded the five-year average gains by 24Bcf on average. The drivers behind these above normal injections are the following:
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