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Natural gas storage withdrawal widens deficit to 5-year average

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 86-Bcf withdrawal from natural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended March 16 that was below the consensus estimate coming into the day and mixed against averages.

The market consensus ahead of the report's release called for a 90-Bcf drawdown from stocks, against respective year-ago and five-year average withdrawals of 137 Bcf and 53 Bcf.

The pull brought total U.S. working gas supply to 1,446 Bcf, or 667 Bcf below the year-ago level and 329 Bcf below the five-year average storage level of 1,775 Bcf.

April natural gas futures were up 1.9 cents at $2.657/MMBtu ahead of the report's release at 10:30 a.m. ET. Following the data, the contract inched above the $2.661/MMBtu pre-release high to $2.667/MMBtu but reversed course to sink below the pre-release low of $2.640/MMBtu to $2.627/MMBtu while trading last 0.4 cent lower on the day at $2.634/MMBtu.

In the East, inventories were down 44 Bcf on the week at 270 Bcf, or 14.8% below the year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were down 35 Bcf at 315 Bcf, or 38.6% below the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels were down 3 Bcf on the week at 90 Bcf, or 34.3% below the year-ago level, while in the Pacific region, storage levels were unchanged on the week at 169 Bcf, or 18.4% below the year-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were down 4 Bcf on the week, stocks are at a deficit of 35.8% to a year earlier.

Working gas stocks in the South Central region totaled 602 Bcf, with 182 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and 419 Bcf in non-salt cavern facilities. Working gas stocks were down 4 Bcf in salt cavern facilities and down 1 Bcf in non-salt cavern facilities since the previous week.

Market prices and included industry data are current as of the time of publication and are subject to change. For more detailed market data, including power, natural gas index prices, as well as forwards and futures, visit our Commodities pages.