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Storage hits fresh end-of-season record with build above expectations

TheU.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 12-Bcf injection intonatural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended April 1 that wasabove consensus estimates and better than historical averages.

Thisweek's storage injection compared against the five-year average withdrawal of19 Bcf and the year-ago injection of 6 Bcf and brought total U.S. working gassupply to a end-of-withdrawal-season record high of 2,480 Bcf, beating theprevious record of 2,473 Bcf set on March 31, 2012. Stocks are 1,008 Bcf abovethe year-ago level and 874 Bcf above the five-year average storage level of1,606 Bcf.

Asurvey of analystsand traders ahead of the report's release showed outlooks ranged from 1-Bcfinjection to as much as a 15-Bcf build, with a consensus formed at an 8-Bcfinjection into storage.

Aheadof the report's 10:30 a.m. ET release, the front-month May natural gas futurescontract was trading higher with short covering on the latest weather forecastsproviding upside momentum. Following the data's release the contract extendedthe pre-release trading range from $1.892/MMBtu to $1.980/MMBtu, moving to a$1.990/MMBtu high while trading last up 7.4 cents at $1.985/MMBtu.

Inthe East, inventories were down 5 Bcf on the week at 434 Bcf, or 76.4% abovethe year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were down 7 Bcf to 548 Bcf,or 113.2% above the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels wereup 2 Bcf on the week to 149 Bcf, or 28.4% above the year-ago level, while inthe Pacific region, storage levels were up 3 Bcf at 265 Bcf, or 2.6% below theyear-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were up 19Bcf on the week, stocks are at a surplus of 86.6% to a year earlier.

Workinggas stocks in the South Central region totaled 1,084 Bcf, with 323 Bcf in saltcavern facilities and with 761 Bcf in nonsalt cavern facilities. Working gasstocks were up 8 Bcf in the salt cavern facilities and up 11 in nonsalt cavernfacilities since the previousweek.

Market prices and includedindustry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject tochange. For more detailed market data, including our power,naturalgas and coalindex prices, as well as forwardsand futures,visit our Commodities Pages. To view detailed EIA Weekly Natural Gas Storagedata, go to our Natural GasStorage Page.