The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 243-Bcf withdrawal from natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended Jan. 13 that was above expectations and historical averages.
The withdrawal was greater than the market consensus ahead of the report's release that called for a 236-Bcf drawdown from stocks and was above both the 175-Bcf withdrawal reported for the same week in 2016 and the five-year average withdrawal of 170 Bcf.
The drawdown brought total U.S. working gas supply to 2,917 Bcf, or 431 Bcf below the year-ago level and 77 Bcf below the five-year average storage level of 2,994 Bcf.
February natural gas futures were trading lower ahead of the data's release, sinking to $3.257/MMBtu while moving down 2.5 cents at $3.277/MMBtu at around 10:29 a.m. ET. In a knee-jerk response to the data, the contract pared losses, and although still holding the pre-release trading range that saw a high at $3.344/MMBtu, was last seen in positive territory, up 2.9 cents at $3.331/MMBtu.
In the East, inventories were down 59 Bcf on the week at 639 Bcf, or 17.1% below the year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were down 70 Bcf at 795 Bcf, or 11.4% below the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels were down 14 Bcf on the week to 183 Bcf, or 6.4% above the year-ago level, while in the Pacific region, storage levels were down 15 Bcf at 248 Bcf, or 13.0% below the year-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were down a net 85 Bcf on the week, stocks are at a deficit of 14.0% to a year earlier.
Working gas stocks in the South Central region totaled 1,052 Bcf, with 312 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and with 740 Bcf in nonsalt cavern facilities. Working gas stocks were down 31 Bcf in the salt cavern facilities and down 54 Bcf in nonsalt cavern facilities since the previous week.
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