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Report shows natural gas storage draw near consensus estimates

TheU.S. Energy Information Administration reported a net 25-Bcf withdrawal fromnatural gas inventories in the Lower 48 during the week ended March 25 that wasslightly above consensus expectations and above historical averages.

Thisweek's storage withdrawal compared against the five-year average withdrawal of22 Bcf and the year-ago pull of 10 Bcf, and brought total U.S. working gassupply to 2,468 Bcf, or 1,002 Bcf above the year-ago level and 843 Bcf abovethe five-year average storage level of 1,625 Bcf.

Asurvey of analystsand traders ahead of the report's release showed outlooks ranged from a 16-Bcfwithdrawal to a pull of 33 Bcf for the review week, with a consensus formed ata 24-Bcf drawdown from stocks.

Aheadof the report's 10:30 a.m. ET release, the front-month May natural gas futurescontract was trading higher on the anticipation of the return to withdrawalsafter a rare injection was reported in the previous week. Following the data'srelease, the contract reversed gains, pulled to a $1.978/MMBtu low and was lasteyed 0.2 cent lower at $1.994/MMBtu.

Inthe East, inventories were down 14 Bcf on the week at 439 Bcf, or 68.2% abovethe year-ago level. Storage levels in the Midwest were down 16 Bcf to 555 Bcf,or 108.6% above the year-ago level. In the Mountain region, storage levels weredown 1 Bcf on the week to 147 Bcf, or 28.9% above the year-ago level, while inthe Pacific region, storage levels were up 2 Bcf at 262 Bcf, or 2.2% below theyear-ago level. In the South Central region, where storage levels were up 4 Bcfon the week, stocks are at a surplus of 90.9% to a year earlier.

Workinggas stocks in the South Central region totaled 1,065 Bcf, with 315 Bcf in saltcavern facilities and with 750 Bcf in nonsalt cavern facilities. Working gasstocks were up 3 Bcf in the salt cavern facilities and up 1 Bcf in nonsaltcavern facilities 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.