The Atlantic Hurricane Season continues to dampen demand for electricity in eastern portions of the U.S. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, which knocked out power to a number of market areas and drove down temperatures amid soaking rain and heavy winds, U.S. population-weighted cooling degree days (CDDs) were almost 22% below normal last week. With Hurricane Irma expected to hit Florida this weekend and move into additional Southeast markets early next week, power demand - as well as subsequent demand for gas-fired generation - will continue to be tempered.
Limited cooling demand and a glut of supplies following interruptions to LNG and pipeline exports in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey contributed to a build of 65 Bcf into U.S. natural gas storage inventories for the week ending September 1. The injection outpaced the five-year average for just the second time in the last 13 weeks, leaving total storage inventories less than 1% ahead of that benchmark.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released on Thursday its latest Petroleum Status Report, noting a sharp decline in oil refining and export volumes following Hurricane Harvey. U.S. refinery utilization fell to its lowest rate since 2010, declining 16.9% percentage points to 79.7%. Weekly crude oil exports fell by 749,000 barrels per day, reaching the lowest levels since the EIA began collecting and reporting that data.