The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 87-Bcf withdrawal from natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week that ended Jan. 27, which was in line with market expectations but well below historical averages.
The withdrawal was even with the market consensus ahead of the report's release that called for an 87-Bcf drawdown from stocks, but was below both the 169-Bcf withdrawal reported for the same week in 2016 and the five-year average withdrawal of 166 Bcf.
The drawdown brought total U.S. working gas supply to 2,711 Bcf, or 266 Bcf below the year-ago level and 59 Bcf above the five-year average storage level of 2,652 Bcf.
March natural gas futures were trading lower ahead of the data's release, touching $3.118/MMBtu while moving at $3.125/MMBtu, 4.3 cents lower on the session, at around 10:29 a.m. ET. The contract had a muted response to the largely anticipated figure, holding shallow negative ground within the trading range established ahead of the data's release. The contract was last traded 2.1 cents lower on the session at $3.147/MMBtu.
In the East, inventories were down 27 Bcf on the week at 569 Bcf, or 13.3% below the year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were down 27 Bcf at 730 Bcf, or 6.4% below the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels were down 9 Bcf on the week to 164 Bcf, or 2.5% above the year-ago level, while in the Pacific region, storage levels were down 14 Bcf at 221 Bcf, or 18.8% below the year-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were down a net 10 Bcf on the week, stocks are at a deficit of 7.4% to a year earlier.
Working gas stocks in the South Central region totaled 1,027 Bcf, with 340 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and with 687 Bcf in nonsalt cavern facilities. Working gas stocks were up 15 Bcf in the salt cavern facilities and down 25 Bcf in nonsalt cavern facilities since the previous week.
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